There is no cure for the approximately 6 million Americans with Alzheimer’s Disease. However, Giving Voice Chorus isn’t waiting for a cure – instead they’re singing.

While memory loss can be an isolating disease, singing in groups has been shown to improve memory and reduce anxiety and depression for both the person with dementia and their care partner. This is why Giving Voice Chorus started in 2014: to help serve people with memory loss and their caregivers. Since then, demand for such a chorus has been staggering, and Giving Voice Chorus has grown to include three choruses that include more that 170 singers.

In 2017, the chorus took on one of its biggest projects yet. In partnership with the American Composers Forum and MacPhail Center for Music, it commissioned new music that was written for and inspired by the chorus. Composer Victor Zupanc and lyricist Louisa Castner spent months with the singers to learn about their experiences and wrote nine songs based on their stories. The project culminated in a sold-out show at The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts last June entitled Love Never Forgets.

Chorus leaders and some of the chorus members, themselves, wondered if it was possible for the choir to learn new songs. Up to this point, their concerts comprised well-known classics. However, the Love Never Forgets concert proved that, not only was the chorus capable of learning new music, but it could also be a source of inspiration for other communities to do the same.

Giving Voice Chorus has become a model for others to start dementia choirs of their own, inspiring choirs all over the United States, as well as in British Columbia, Europe and Australia. And now with Love Never Forgets, they have also inspired a new repertoire of songs that speak directly to the experience of living and singing with dementia.

Photo Credit: Matt Mead Photo

Special Thanks: MacPhail Center for MusicThe Ordway Center for the Performing ArtsAmerican Composers Forum, Jeanie Brindley Barnett, Music Director, Giving Voice Chorus.

Music Credit: Concert audio courtesy of Minnesota Public Radio. All rights reserved.

Production Team: Kate McDonald, Ryan Klabunde, Brennan Vance, Robert Hutchings, Mark Hentges, Mike Phillips, Terry Gray, Matt Mead, Jack Davis, Eric Pagel, Joe Demko.

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This story is made possible by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and the citizens of Minnesota.