Coming home … wherever in the world home may be. Feeling included and accepted … for whoever you are or wish to become. Diverse voices coming together in song and forming a community of support.
These are the values Stony Brook University Chorale Director Shoshana Hershkowitz lives, breathes, creates and shares with her students every way she can and every chance she gets, whether it’s a student conveying his personal reflections on Transgender Day of Remembrance, an Iranian student raising awareness of the violence happening in her home country, or first-generation students sharing their unique circumstances, challenges and joys.
All of those experiences happened at recent chorale rehearsals, where individuals are consistently invited to express their feelings as they relate to music and beyond.
At the Winter 2022 concert at the Staller Center, Hershkowitz had student singers introduce each of the diverse musical pieces, talking about the special meanings they had for them. Whether from Tanzania, China, Germany or Korea, most songs were also composed by women and people of color. And students connected deeply, as they do each semester.
It’s these types of connections, and this level of impact, that keeps Hershkowitz doing what she’s been doing for the past 24 years: leading students in song.
“This is all about the wonderfully diverse campus community here at Stony Brook,” she said, “and what happens when every person is given a voice, respected for exactly who they are, and welcomed to come together with lots of others who may or may not be like them. This is why Stony Brook, to me, is a sacred and unique space in this world. And why I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. And it’s why students always take ‘center stage.’”
— Ellen Cooke