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A Wave of Hope from the Mount Hope World Singers


Throughout the pandemic, musicians and artists in Rochester have done so much to keep us all connected, comforted, and inspired while also facing so many challenges of their own. Even as live, in-person music is becoming a more regular part of more people's lives,  I was particularly touched by this virtual choir performance that the Mount Hope World Singers have just released online. Here is their performance of "Umi Sono Ai" by Kousaku Dan, as arranged by Rachel Stenson, with some more about the ensemble and this project from their artistic director Annika Bentley and stage manager Kristen MacKay. ~Mona

Mount Hope World Singers (MWHS) is a non-auditioned community choir in Rochester, New York. MWHS seeks to build community and foster intercultural understanding through engaging, high quality, respectful performance of music in original languages from around the globe.

In spring 2020, MWHS began rehearsing online due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. After several performances were canceled the group shifted focus to producing a virtually recorded choral performance. Following a year of virtual rehearsals, this piece was made by digitally combining 23 solo recordings from singers in Rochester, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, and Nairobi.

Written in the 1960s by popular entertainer Kousaku Dan, "Umi Sono Ai" is recognized as a symbol of Japan's spirit and the hope of a life fulfilled. The piece tells of a man reflecting upon his life while observing the ocean’s waves. The ocean offers a remembrance, a conviction that all those we have touched, and all those with whom we have interacted in life's journey, combine to chart a course for a better tomorrow.

Amidst the tragedy and isolation of COVID-19, Umi Sono Ai reminds us that while the course of our lives may ebb and flow like the ocean, we are moved ever forward to our destiny by the hope of each new wave and our connections with others who are also on the journey. 


Artistic Director & Producer: Annika Bentley
Conductor: Brian White
Accompanist: Cathy Cohen
Soloist: Austin Wahl
Audio Engineer: T.J. Lipple
Video Editor: Clara Riedlinger

Annika Bentley, Soprano
Sue Bovay, Alto*
Cathy Cohen, Alto
Barb Deitz, Alto
Lizz de Simone, Soprano
Kathleen Fraser, Tenor
Jenny Gaul, Soprano
Elaine Hollis, Alto
Mark Hopkins, Bass*
Fran Kreider, Alto
Joellen Kuhl, Tenor
Meghan Bruce Kumar, Soprano*
Kristen MacKay, Soprano
Anita Piccarreta, Alto
Pranesh Purandaradoss, Bass
Evan Roberts, Tenor
Carol Santos, Alto
Terry Schwartz, Soprano
Mary Taglieri, Tenor*
Austin Wahl, Bass
Brian White, Tenor
Kayleigh White, Soprano
Jim Willer, Bass

*audio only