When “Voices of Humanity,” as the city’s fourth annual interfaith concert is now called, returns on Sunday, May 15, to The Vilna Shul, it will likely be the first time in three years that many guests have set foot inside the historic Phillips Street building, which had been closed for more than a year for the first phase of extensive renovations before the pandemic struck.
“After a two-year hiatus, we can’t wait for this powerful and electrifying concert again,” said Dalit Ballen Horn, executive director of The Vilna Shul. “This will really be the first time back in the building in three years for many people. It’s also happening in the spring and at a moment when people are happy to be gathering again and feel comfortable [doing so].”
Formerly known as “Voices of Freedom,” this year’s “Voices of Humanity” concert will again feature three choirs – – the Zamir Chorale of Boston, America’s foremost Jewish choral ensemble; VOICES 21C, a diverse choir dedicated to positive interactions, social justice, and global understanding; and the Boston Community Gospel Choir, which often performs with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Each group will separately perform songs from the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian cultures, respectively, before joining together to perform “music that transcends the collective cultures,” according to The Vilna Shul.
At the request of the performers, everyone will remain masked when indoors for this musical performance and proof of vaccination will be required to gain admission, which should help ease the minds of some potential guests who’ve been staying home during the pandemic due to safety concerns.
“We know during COVID that people felt lonely and isolated, and for their own personal health, safety, and wellbeing, they chose to stay indoors and apart from the community,” said Horn. “One of the largest areas that suffered was our ability to bring people together from different backgrounds…and our ability to gather in diverse settings and meet people from different communities and backgrounds.”
Added Horn, “One of the most important things we could do as an organization is to host a concert that brings people together from multiple communities.”
The third annual (and last) interfaith concert sponsored by The Vilna Shul, which was held in partnership with the Museum of African American History, took place on March 24, 2019, at the museum, while the following year’s scheduled concert at The Vilna Shul was ultimately canceled due to the pandemic. Likewise, no concert was held last year on account of COVID.
This year, Old North Church is joining The Vilna Shul in co-sponsoring the concert – a fitting partnership, said Horn, since both organizations recognize just how important this moment is for the purposes of building community.
“We’re really happy that Old North Church is also serving as a co-sponsor,” said Horn. “They too really see this moment as an opportunity for the community to come together.”
(Besides The Vilna Shul and Old North Church, other co-sponsors for the concert include Basis Technology, Levine Chapels, Spencer Preservation Group, and Peter Antoszyk of Proskauer.)
Above all else, though, the concert intends to use music to “uplift and raise up really important values in this country around community and social responsibility,” according to Horn, while creating a welcoming atmosphere for all who attend.
“We really hope that people from a wide range of religious and ethnic backgrounds feel welcome and are really encouraged to attend,” said Horn.
This year’s “Voices of Humanity” concert takes place Sunday, May 15, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at The Vilna Shul at 18 Phillips St. Tickets cost $25 each for adults and $18 each for students. For more information and to register for the event, visit https://vilnashul.org/events/event/voices-of-humanity.