Sabathani’s Vintage Voices make a joyful noise

(Photo by Stephen Maturen)

Sabathani’s senior choir Vintage Voices brought community members to their feet with a concert entitled “Draw the Circle Wide” on Thursday, May 4. The concert, held at Sabathani Community Center in Minneapolis and presented by VocalEssence, featured a wide array of talent. From inspirational readings and piano solos to duets and choir selections, the themes of togetherness and the pursuit of justice rang supreme.

The title and theme of the concert were chosen to counter the troubling climate the country is currently facing, according to VocalEssence conductor Robert Graham, who spoke to the MSR after the concert.

(Photo by Stephen Maturen)

“The arts have always been a medium for political and social commentary,” he stated in an email. “It just seemed so fitting to do a program that would allow the community to say, ‘Here we are, together. We are not going anywhere, and everyone is included in our circle.’ Let’s celebrate through music and spoken word the things and ideas that draw us together and help us keep fighting the good fight.”

Vintage Voices is funded by a year-long grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. The group rehearses each Tuesday for 12 weeks. Seniors from all over the Metro area are welcome to join at no cost.

Graham noted that participation in the creative arts can result in improved self esteem and increased engagement and pleasure in seniors, as well as reduced depression and loneliness. VocalEssence is currently working on making Vintage Voices a permanent fixture at Sabathani, which would enable the choir to increase their concerts to two or three a year.

(Photo by Stephen Maturen)

“We can learn a lot from [Sabathani seniors], and providing the opportunity for them to have a voice and a vehicle to spread these messages of building unity and community is so important,” Graham stated.


For more information about the project, visit

(See a snippet from the final song from the event below):



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