AFFILIATED LG ARTISTS
LIFESONGS is an arts-in-community project that generates original musical works created by elders in collaboration with professional musicians and artists as well as youth and community choirs.
The experiences of aging and dying are often pushed aside in contemporary society and yet both are critical aspects of our human experience. Lifesongs provides intergenerational opportunities for meaningful social inclusion and exchange with participants, youth, and audiences that transform lives.
The Power of Creative Storytelling
We create and share stories to navigate our lives. Storytelling though music, dance, visual arts, and digital media allows us to blend cultural traditions with expressive innovations, both reflecting and giving birth to new com- munities. Inherent to the Lifesongs creative process is also the rich exchange of experience, imagination, and wisdom.
When people of all ages work together in the true spirit of creative collaboration, they experience a sense of wonder, wellbeing, and connection. We need one another to grow our understanding of ourselves, and our worlds. Lifesongs brings youth, elders, and community members together into enlivening creative communities.
Individually and collectively we seek opportunities to create meaning in our lives. Through creative sessions, gatherings, and public concerts, Lifesongs emphasizes exploration and inquiry as means to deepening our understanding of our relationships – to ourselves, to one another, and to our wider communities
To date, Lifesongs collaborations have been of two kinds:
- One-to-one sessions between facilitating artists and people in hospice and nursing care.
- A unique intergenerational ensemble created with residents of nursing care facilities, artists from the community, youth performers, and school children. The ensemble incorporates both acoustic and adaptive technology instruments in the creation of original compositions.
How Lifesongs Are Created
Anyone is capable of creating a Lifesong. Lifesongs artists specialize in the capacity to provide a safe environment in which each person is truly witnessed. The Lifesongs practice is based upon an in-depth collaborative process in which participants near the end of life are able to identify and express something of meaning in their lives.
The Lifesongs artists combine writing and drawing exercises with guided discussion and musical exploration (acoustic instruments, adaptive instrument technology, and midi keyboards) to draw authentic responses from the participants. Artists and participants then work together to refine these into musical and artistic works.
How Lifesongs Are Shared
Professional musicians, local choirs, and artists of all ages perform the resulting musical works in a concert for the public. Lifesongscollaborations have culminated in songs of love, homages to family and friends, contemplations, creative multi-media explorations of gardening, and simple prayers for freedom and peace.
A Replicable Model
Over the past four years, Lifesongs has developed an effective program and a strong community partnership structure. Lifesongs artists have worked with over 50 nursing home and hospice residents and their extended families, 200 youth and community singers, 20 facilitating artists, and 15 professional musicians. Over 2500 audience members have experienced the concerts.
Demand for the program has been growing both locally and in other communities. In order to accommodate these expanding needs and to create a replicable model, Lifesongs entered a strategic planning year in 2011-2012 with the program’s new home, the Academy for the Love of Learning.
When I come here I feel that I belong. It feels like life.–Dorothy, nursing home resident / Lifesongs Performance Ensemble member
I had no idea I could do anything like this!–Mary, hospice participant
Have all of these people come to hear my song?– Juanita, nursing home participant.
Before Lifesongs we just existed. Now we are living. I feel like a role model.– Glady, nursing home participant
People just see the wheelchairs but we have so much life in us. Lifesongs is a recognition of what I am capable of.–Virginia, nursing home participant
It gives the [residents] a reason to live and improves their attitude mentally, physically, and socially. I think it gives them a sense of meaning, self-esteem, and a real connection to the community. [The concert] gave family members a sense of what it is like to live in a nursing home.-Family member of a nursing home resident
This project shows that the world does have a heart and cares despite all the violence that surrounds us today. This project makes the world a smaller and safer place because of the care, love, and passion that is put into each and every piece.–Gabriel, University of New Mexico student / chorus member
This was so life affirming and uplifting. I will never forget it.–Lifesongs audience member
The Lifesongs facilitators were able to find the gem in each individual. Everyone was treated as if they mattered.–Maria Eugenia Jimenez, Activities Assistant, Santa Fe Care Center
This program changes lives.–Christine Sandoval, Activities Director, Santa Fe Care Center
Lifesongs is essential—a remarkable opportunity to bring meaningful expression to what lives most deeply in us as we come to the last stages of our lives.-Aaron Stern, Academy Founder and President
Lifesongs dignifies both the universal and individual experiences of aging and dying. It is a tremendous honor to be part of a creative process that celebrates these vital and essential chapters of our human journey.-Molly Sturges and Acushla Bastible, Lifesongs Co-Directors
THE LIFESONGS LEADERSHIP TEAM
Acushla Bastible (Co-Director) is a multi-disciplinary theatre artist – performer, stage director, writer, and educator. She is the artistic co-director and a co-founder of Lifesongs, an artistic associate with The Santa Fe Opera, and an artistic affiliate with Littleglobe. She is currently collaborating with Molly Sturges on the development of COAL: A musical fable (www.coalmusical.com). She is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, and École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoqin Paris.
Molly Sturges (Co-Director) is an artistic director, composer, performer, and facilitator. She is the artistic co-director and co- founder of Lifesongs and the artist collective Littleglobe. She specializes in interdisciplinary creative collaborations with a wide range of communities that foster community engagement and social transformation. In 2011 she joined the faculty of The Academy for the Love of Learning and is a Professor of Practice in Art and Ecology at The University of New Mexico. She is currently at work on COAL: A musical fable.
The Academy for the Love of Learning (primary)- The Academy for the Love of Learning seeks to awaken, enliven, and sustain the natural love of learning. Innovative programming—including Leadingby Being®, Teacher Renewal, Institute for Organizational Learning, theVentana Consultancy Project, El Otro Lado: The Other Side—engages individuals, organizations, community leaders, artists, parents, and teachers in the experience of learning as a transformative practice. www.aloveoflearning.org
Littleglobe (supporting) is a Santa Fe based, non-profit consisting of a team of seasoned, professional artists, activists, and facilitators from diverse cultural and artistic backgrounds committed to interdisciplinary, collaborative art projects that foster life-affirming con-nections across the boundaries that divide us.
To Learn More About Lifesongs
Academy for The Love of Learning 133 Seton Village Road, Santa Fe, NM 87508 www.aloveoflearning.org
Lifesongs was founded in 2007 by The Santa Fe Opera and Littleglobe under the leadership of Acushla Bastible, Andrea Fellows Walters and Molly Sturges. In 2011, Lifesongs became a program of the Academy for the Love of Learning in partnership with Littleglobe.
Partners over the years include Santa Fe Care Center, New Mexico based composers, musicians, visual artists, and writers, The LensicPerforming Arts Center, The Santa Fe Complex, youth from the University of New Mexico Dolce Suono choir, Young Voices of The Santa Fe Opera, Your Song ( a threshold choir), Ambercare Hospice of Santa Fe and Albuquerque, Coming Home Connection and The National Hispanic Cultural Center. In 2011 students from the Santa Fe Waldorf School joined the collaboration.
the dark breezes of the sea i have never felt you quiet, so quiet, tranquility- i am searching for life
Barbara Armstrong, 2008
I am stepping into life and can feel the wind on my back. I wave goodbye to Tucumcari and make my way toward you-
Jeannene O’Hara, 2009