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A Circle of Learning of Song set for Sunday at St. James Lutheran in Elmira

The St. James Lutheran Church of Elmira will be holding a different kind of spiritual experience this weekend, with a benefit concert to support the Six Nations community.

A Circle of Learning of Song is being held Sunday afternoon (January 28) at the church, 60 Arthur St. S. The concert will be raising money through free-will donations for the Music for the Spirit program, run by members of the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory.

At the concert will be Mino Ode Kwewak N’Gamowak, or the Good Hearted Women Singers, a local group of mostly indigenous women, who will be singing and playing in a drum circle.

Performing alongside them, as well as a few solo pieces, will be the Inshallah choir. The choir, Inshallah, an Arabic phrase meaning “god willing,” will be bringing a diversity of music from around the globe right to Elmira.

Linda Snyder, a member of the church and co-ordinator for the concert support team, has listened to both groups before. She says confidently that those attending this weekend will  be in for a fantastic time.

“They are amazing,” she said about both performers. “The Inshallah is a choir of volunteers who sing music, and a lot of it music from various faith groups from around the globe. And their purpose to present music that’s inclusive, so it’s many different faith groups.”

Mino Ode, meanwhile, will be bringing their drums and drawing on the Anishinaabe traditions.

“Part of our mandate, an informal mandate with our drum circle is to reach out and build [relationships] with all our relations,” said Kelly Laurila, a member of the drumming circle.

Mino Ode and Inshallah have collaborated together in the past, the two sharing one another’s music to create something distinct. As over 70 members of the Inshallah Choir will be coming to perform, the church is trying something new to accommodate all the performers.

I think it’s going to be amazing because it is the first time in our sanctuary at St. James we are going to have the audience surrounded by the choir,” said Snyder.

“So the Inshallah choir will be occupying the outside of the pews, and the audience will be sitting in the inside section of the sanctuary… Mino Ode will be performing at the front of church before you go up the steps. So I think it’s going to be a tremendous sound. It’s going to be a new experience.”

Both groups are performing at their own expense, meaning the concert is free to attend for anyone in the community. The church will be requesting free-will donations that will go to supporting the Music for the Spirit music program for Six Nations youth. After the concert, which kicks off this Sunday at 2:30 p.m., people will have the opportunity to meet with both music groups, as well as members of the Music for the Spirit program

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