Projects and Peacebuilding

Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.
~ Maya Angelou ~

Projects across Disciplines:

Background:  While the majority of her formal training is in classical violin and piano, Frances also has a love for singing, dance, movement and the visual arts.  She finds creative work most engaging in the "in-between spaces" where these disciplines meet.   She writes music for theatre and film, plays for dancers, and has studied improv. movement theatre and yoga, ceramics and painting.

Current and Upcoming:

  • Frances is currently composing music for a premier performance, "Spinning Gold" at the New Dance Festival at James Madison University.   She will be performing with dance professors Kate Trammel and Cynthia Thompson on Sept. 9th and 10th in the Forbes Center at JMU in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
  • Gallery showing and performance at Eastern Mennonite University - "Re-Naming Infinity - in search of a God who looks like me".  Oct. 22   The opening will include live performance.


A glimpse of the "Re-naming Divinity" research presentation from fall of 2010 which included song collages by Frances and visual representations of interviews done in collaboration with fiber artist Amanda Gross.  The upcoming gallery presentation is based on this work.  It will be an interactive exhibit used to generate creativity around our understandings of gender and spirituality.

 

Recent:

  • July 5th - improvisational musician for the community theatre group, "1,000 Faces"  based in Sperryville, VA.  


This picture is from the opening scene, performed for an interesting
audience of local Virginians and Tibetan Buddhist monks

  • Composed and performed music for "Bus Stop" by Gao Xinglian.  Theatre production at Eastern Mennonite University.  March and April 2011.  

    A quote from Heidi Vogel, director of "Bus Stop": 


    "Frances embodies the joy of artistic collaboration, everyone's work is enhanced due to her musical artistry and gracious spirit."

 

Available for hire to compose for theatre, dance, performance art collaborations, and creative coaching. 

Building Peace through Music?


In Howard Zehr's restorative justice class at EMU's conflict transformation grad program, Frances demonstrates to fellow classmates her new idea of teaching the principles of restorative justice through communal music enactment.

 

Frances received an early wake-up call to the disparities of power that play out between national/cultural and racial groups.  As a child in Kenya, she witnessed violence towards those who have no voice in the ruling systems, and later in life witnessed a different form of the same story in the USA with gender, race and class.  For years she has struggled with questions of how to break cycles of oppression.  She continues to look for ways to offer music that will bring more healing and balance.

Influences:
There have been role models along the way who have fostered my love of community music and a belief in creativity to activate change.  One of these was my father, who carried a passion for the traditional 4-part harmony songs of our Mennonite heritage.  His work with theatre continually stretched and challenged communal assumptions and beliefs.  I watched him, through the arts, simultaneously hold to tradition while challenging it to grow.

I also draw from the wealth of wisdom found in traditions throughout the African continent where communities still dance, drum and sing together.  As a child, drumming and singing lulled me to sleep but it wasn't until later I began to understand and articulate the vision of music as central to building healthy relations rather than just a means of entertainment.   

 

Past projects:

  •  "Drum Circle Project":  drumming program for youth at a Juvenile Detention Center in Goshen Indiana 2003.   Frances received a grant to purchase instruments and facilitated weekly sessions.  
  • music program for children at a transitional housing unit called the Rise -  for women and their children coming from the shelter.  The program included private violin lessons and drum circles.

Current:

Frances is now part of a collaborative network of peacebuilder-artists through her graduate studies in Conflict Transformation at Eastern Mennonite University.  They've been exploring the many ways art and aesthetic experience can be vital in the work of building and restoring peace individually, in local communities,  and internationally. 

Here are some of the wonderful individuals I've been working with and what they are up to:

Paulette Moore 
Howard Zehr
Amanda Gross
Daryl Snider
David Kreider

 

"With assistance from artists and cultural workers, many people who have survived the trauma of war are finding ways to express their suffering and give shape to experiences too horrible for words. Former enemies are rediscovering each other’s humanity. Supported by the structures of rituals and the arts, they are addressing painful history and grappling with conflicting narratives in ways that help them, gradually, to build the trust they need to cooperate in the reconstruction of their societies."

-Cynthia Cohen, professor at Brandeis University