Syler to narrate choral work about breast cancer survivors in events to raise money for Susan G. Komen
Resounding Harmony will perform "Sing for the Cure" on May 12 at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas and then on June 6 at Carnegie Hall in New York.
Both performances benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Tim Seelig will conduct.
Former WFAA and KTVT news anchor and CBS "Morning Show" host Rene Syler will be the narrator at both performances. She currently lives in New York.
Although Syler was not diagnosed with breast cancer, she had a positive BRAC test that indicates a probability that she would develop the disease. With a strong history of the disease in her family, including both her mother and her father, she had a prophylactic mastectomy in 2007 to prevent developing cancer later.
The Susan G. Komen Foundation commissioned "Sing for the Cure," according to Seelig, explaining that Komen founder Nancy Brinker wanted to get the organization’s message out in a new way — through music.
Pamela Martin Tomlinson wrote the libretto, which was set to music by 10 composers. The work tells the true stories of the pain, struggles and hope of breast cancer survivors.
Maya Angelou narrated the 2000 premiere of the song cycle in Dallas. Seelig conducted the Turtle Creek Chorale performance at the Meyerson.
"Nothing like big shoes to fill," Syler joked. "I’m terrified!"
But she said that as she listens to the music and prepares for the performance, she is just a conduit for a greater message.
"I’m helping spread a message of hope and encouragement through song," Syler said.
Since its first performance in Dallas, the piece has been performed around the world.
"Last year it had its Canadian premiere in Vancouver, and Dallas PUMP! performed," Seelig said. He said he has conducted performances of the work "from London to Wichita, Kansas."
The London Gay Symphony Orchestra accompanied the London concert with singers from around Europe and from as far away as Australia.
Two years ago, Seelig founded Resounding Harmony as a mixed-voice chorus, gay and straight, male and female. Fundraising is a major goal of the group and partnering with the Komen Foundation for the 10th anniversary of "Sing for the Cure" was a natural for them, Seelig said.
Of Resounding Harmony’s nearly 200 members, about 145 of them, as of earlier this week, will be performing in New York, according to Seelig.
"Approximately 90 others are meeting us there from all over the U.S.," Seelig said.
Singers who are performing in New York paid a $590 fee. This covers the hall rental, hiring an orchestra, advertising and rehearsal space. In addition, singers are responsible for their own airfare and hotel.
The Dallas singers have been rehearsing since January, and many of the guest singers who will join Resounding Harmony at Carnegie Hall have performed the piece with other groups in their hometowns.
"A large chunk is a group coming from Sarasota," Seelig said. Their group, Diversity Sarasota, will perform the piece on May 15 in Florida.
In New York, the combined chorus will rehearse on Friday and Saturday. Then on Sunday there will be a full dress rehearsal with Syler and the orchestra before that evening’s performance.
To Seelig, nothing compares to performing at Carnegie Hall. For the fifth anniversary of "Sing for the Cure," he conducted the Turtle Creek Chorale there.
"Not one person I’ve ever taken didn’t say, ‘I’d pay double to stand on that stage.’"
Seeling said, "There are a number of people who were around for the original who will be singing next week in Dallas and then in New York." Although the Turtle Creek Chorale, which premiered the event, won’t be singing, they won’t be totally absent from the event.
At both performances, the Chorale will have a table selling copies of the original CD featuring Angelou’s narration. Proceeds of that recording also benefit the Komen Foundation.
Syler will be involved in an additional breast cancer awareness education during her visit to Dallas. She and Los Angeles breast cancer specialist Dr. Vladimir Lange will present "Breast Cancer: On the Edge" at Cathedral of Hope at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 11.
"I’m still preaching the gospel of imperfection and empowering people through good health," Syler said.
After the presentation, Syler will sign copies of her book, "Good Enough Mother" and Lange will sign his, "Be a Survivor: Your Guide to Breast Cancer Treatment."
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 7, 2010.