Resounding Harmony performance benefits Make-A-Wish Foundation

Rene Syler to narrate stories of children whose wishes have been granted in ‘Wishes from the Heart’

Syler.Rene

Rene Syler

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Resounding Harmony presents its first concert of the season on Nov. 22, called Wishes from the Heart, to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation works to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions, and through its chapters around the country has granted some 250,000 such wishes since it was founded in Phoenix in 1980.

Resounding Harmony Artistic Director Russ Reiger said the benefit show was birthed out of the chorus’ admiration for the foundation.

“We held our retreat at the Make-A-Wish facility and it’s a magical place,” he said.

Resounding Harmony Board Chair Mark Knight said that children’s wishes are divided into categories: “I want to go…,” “I want to be…,” “I want to do…” and “I want to have… .”

So Resounding Harmony used that as a structure for the concert, basing the program on the idea of children being taken into the wishing tower.

Narrator Rene Syler will introduce some children whose wishes have been granted and tell a number of their stories. Syler is the author of the book Good Enough Mother.

Before moving to New York to host The Early Show on CBS, Syler was known to North Texas audiences as anchor of the Channel 11 news in Dallas. While in Dallas, she was active in fundraising activities for Resource Center Dallas.

Syler has worked with Resounding Harmony before. She narrated the 10th anniversary production of Sing for the Cure in Dallas and at Carnegie Hall in New York.

“I love Resounding Harmony,” Syler said. “Any time I can pair with them and a great group like Make-A-Wish, I’m glad to come to Dallas.”

She said she’d be doing some things on her website, GoodEnoughMother.com, before and after the concert to promote Make-A-Wish and hopefully raise additional funds for the organization.

“Rene is an old friend and we were thrilled she said she’d come,” Rieger said.

Rieger said that many of the songs during the concert will revolve around the wishes that have been granted.

“‘New York, New York’ is associated with one wish-kid’s story,” he said.

Resounding Harmony will also perform ‘Joyful, Joyful’ from Sister Act, ‘You’ve Got a Friend Indeed’ from Toy Story and ‘Out of My Dreams’ from Oklahoma.

“The first act will end with a gospel roof raiser,” he said.

Sheran Keyton, a popular Fort Worth singer, will be the guest soloist. Keyton appeared in Casa Manana’s production of Hairspray this summer.

Artwork from some of the Make-A-Wish kids will be for sale in the Meyerson lobby.

“One special piece created just for the concert will be auctioned during the show,” Knight said.

This is Rieger’s first full season with Resounding Harmony. He joined the chorus last year for the June concert after founding Artistic Director Tim Seelig moved to California to head the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.

Rieger said money raised at the concert would be distributed in December at an end-of-year celebration.

Each Resounding Harmony concert benefits a community organization. Proceeds from the spring concert Songs for the Heart will support the Dallas-based American Heart Association. Next season’s beneficiaries will be announced at the upcoming November concert.

On Saturday, Nov. 12, Resounding Harmony will also perform for the second time at Cancer Support Community, formerly known as Gilda’s Club, for its annual service of remembrance.

Resounding Harmony at Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora St. 8 p.m. $25–40. ResoundingHarmony.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 11, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Resounding Harmony begins Chapter Two

Russ Rieger

Russ Rieger conducts the mixed-voice chorus for the first time as the new artistic director with June 8 concert

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Resounding Harmony begins a new chapter in its life when the chorus performs at the Meyerson Symphony Center on June 8 with new artistic director Russ Rieger conducting for the first time.

The mixed-voice group last performed in the fall before founder and original artistic director Tim Seelig left Dallas to conduct the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.

Rieger was hired Jan. 1 to replace Seelig. Before his first rehearsal as director, he worried about how he would fill Seelig’s shoes.

“There’s no way anyone could fill those shoes,” he said. “The chorus presented me with a pair of new shoes so I didn’t have to fill Tim’s.”

Board Chair Mark Knight said they’re calling this Chapter Two for Resounding Harmony, but the transition has been an easy one.

Rieger, who has been the music minister of Oak Lawn United Methodist Church for 21 years, served as the principal accompanist for the Turtle Creek Chorale and Women’s Chorus of Dallas. He accompanied Resounding Harmony when they performed Sing for the Cure at Carnegie Hall last year.

“He’s played the organ for all of our concerts at the Meyerson,” Knight said.

Each of Resounding Harmony’s concerts is a benefit performance, which Knight calls musical philanthropy. This concert will support the Palliative Care program at Children’s Medical Center.

The concert is titled Born for Greatness, in honor of the children in the palliative care program, Rieger said.

“Greatness isn’t measured by the length of a child’s life, but by the impact the child makes on others,” Rieger said doctors who work in Children’s Hospital’s palliative care unit told him.

Performing with Resounding Harmony at the June 8 concert is Grammy-winning singer and songwriter Jana Stanfield. She has done programs for palliative care programs elsewhere and will perform her song, “Born for Greatness.”

Also appearing are dancers from the Academy of Dance from Allen who will accompany two of the songs.

Rieger said most of the music in the show will be inspirational. The first half closes with “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from Carousel. Another piece they’ll do is “He Ain’t Heavy … He’s My Brother.”

He said plans already are forming for the next two seasons. Next year, Seelig will be conducting Sing for the Cure in Atlanta and he has invited Resounding Harmony to join them.

Beneficiaries for next season’s concerts have been set. The November performance is for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the spring concert will benefit the American Heart Association.

Knight said they are working on a tour for the 2012-13 season.

Resounding Harmony performs at the Meyerson Symphony Center, June 8 at 8 p.m. $30-50. Tickets available on line at ResoundingHarmony.org.

—  John Wright