Challenge America Grant

Exciting news for the local creative economy!

We are thrilled to announce that Great Bend Center for Music has been awarded a Challenge America grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for 2022! This funding will allow for a professional recording of our American Prize-winning commission “Borders” by Seattle composer John Muehleisen along with the development of curriculum and practice materials that will help kids in grades 4–12 explore some of the cultural contributions and experiences of Native Americans, African Americans, Latin Americans, and Asian Americans within the American tapestry.

Congressman Derek Kilmer of WA’s Sixth District described “Borders” as “a monumental achievement not only for the members of Great Bend’s Chorale and Youth Chorale, but for the entire community. The stakeholders behind this commission also included the arts and cultural stewards of the Skokomish Tribal Nation, Mason County Historic Preservation Commission, and Sierra Pacific Industries, who came together with Great Bend to tell the story of our diverse Pacific Northwest community.”

Scored for soprano solo, adult choir, children’s chorus, strings, piano, and percussion, the work explores the question, “How should we treat the stranger—the foreigner—amongst us?” Beginning with a Salish song of welcome, Muehleisen weaves together European, African, Asian, Middle Eastern, and Latin American folk songs with his own settings of the poetry of Emma Lazarus, Brian Bilston, and Alberto Ríos in a powerful and moving musical journey that explores the historical roots of immigration and the modern relevance of America’s identity as the great melting pot.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support arts projects like this one from Great Bend Center for Music that help support the community’s creative economy,” said NEA Acting Chair Ann Eilers. “Great Bend Center for Music in Union, WA is among the organizations nationwide that are using the arts as a source of strength, a path to well-being, and providing access and opportunity for people to connect and find joy through the arts.”

Stay tuned for more updates! In the meantime, you can learn more and listen to a live performance of “Borders” here.

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