Pioneer grads reunite via Facebook; collaborate on choral piece honoring the homeless

By Jo Mathis/AAPS District News
     Two 2009 Pioneer High School graduates who barely knew each other as teens recently reconnected via Facebook.
     Nothing unusual about that.
     But Stephanie Ann Boyd and Jessica Lynn Suchon took it one big step beyond and collaborated professionally to create a musical piece honoring the homeless.
     When the conductor of the Boston orchestra in which Boyd is composer-in-residence approached Boyd about doing a  choral piece, it was clear they needed some poetry to accompany it.
Stephanie Ann Boyd
     Boyd (who was profiled in the AAPS District News last summer) thought of Suchon because she’d recently read on Facebook that Suchon was becoming an award-winning poet. When Boyd asked Suchon to see some of her work, she received a book of Suchon’s poetry—her master’s thesis.
Jessica Lynn Suchon
     “I thought, `Holy cow!’ because it talks about the difficult parts of the female experience, and also about trauma and abuse,”‘ Boyd said during an interview with Boston’s BNN News.
     Eureka Ensemble Music Director Kristo Kondakci was also very moved, and the collaboration began.
     The two Ann Arbor natives wrote a “women’s mass” which is a nearly 20-minute piece of music in five movements, set to a crown of Suchon’s sonnets, with each corresponding to a different stage in the stages of recovery of emotional abuse.
     “Sheltering Voices” was performed in May in Boston with an experienced community orchestra, community choir, as well as a choir of women from local homeless and women’s shelters who have been given fellowships and support to be involved.
     “It’s had a huge impact on these women, and Jessica and I wrote our work with them in mind,” said Boyd.
     Do the two plan to work together again?
     In fact, the two are already hard at work preparing for their collaboration in the Dark Sky Project—a commission for string quartet and female voice.  They are one of the all-female teams resulting in a full-length concert of pieces for string quartet and voice on the project.
     The Ann Arbor connection doesn’t end there.
     In fact, the project is directed by fellow Michigander Griffin Candey and will be premiered by Ann Arbor’s own ÆPEX Contemporary Performance next fall.
The following is a clip from Boyd’s Boston TV interview in which Boyd (with Eureka Ensemble Director Kristo Kondakci) she talks about “Sheltering Voices” and her collaboration with Suchon:


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