Echoes of Peace Choir

Echoes of Peace Choir

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Fall 2013 Choir Season Begins

We will be starting up our fall 2013 season on Tuesday, September 3, 6:30-8:15pm. This season we will be meeting at Myers-Wilkins Elementary School in their music room. The address is 1027 N. 8th Avenue East, Duluth (formerly Grant Elementary School).

More details on this web page:

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Heart of Echoes of Peace

The heart of Echoes of Peace is bringing people together through song
Story, puppets and poems, paintings and pictures
To sing in harmonious, cacophonous community together

The heart of bringing people together to sing is witnessing what happens, 
Beholding what begins, sensing what simmers
When a song is sung collectively
When we—in all our splendid, wondrous, irritating, frustrating and
glorious diversity come together to sing as One Voice.

The singing is not about the song
The song is a vehicle, instrument, passageway
To propel us, move us, shake us, beckon and break us
open to wander where our hearts want to lead
Present, Open, Aware, Engaged, Caring
Able to witness the wondrous and horrific world
 Around, within, and about us

The horrific world:
Where children are gunned down in public school,
Where entire peoples are targets of genocide—
Halabja, Auschwitz, Sandy Lake, Wounded Knee
A world where people are raped, lynched, tortured, kidnapped, killed
For their color of skin, religion, gender, sexual orientation.
Clayton, Jackson, McGhie. Matthew Shephard.
Homelessness, hunger, poverty, prisons
War, waste, oil spilling, honor killing
Invasion, denigration, degradation
There is no end to the bad news.

Our hearts turn to stone, shell-shocked souls despair
Stunned, inert, immobilized
Echoing a song is somewhere to begin

A song is a gardener
It picks up a shovel and starts to dig.
Tenderly tips the blade into the burnt and brazed, hard as hell,
Crusted, cranky, depleted, impenetrable soil
at the surface of the heart
Tosses and turns over and around all the scraps, remnants, remains,
All the crap, cruelty, and craziness
Amending, softening, sifting
Activating, aerating, enlivening

A song is a seed
It is not derailed, discouraged, deterred by gated, guarded hearts
It finds every shortcut, crack and crevice
It flits, floats, meanders, winds, works it’s way in
Wakes us up to what is and what can be

It will knock down the wall and fashion a bridge from sundered stone
Enter the soul’s secret garden
Subtly scatter seed

A song will not change a policy, re-write the laws, topple dictators,
End discrimination, stop deforestation
House the homeless, feed the hungry, heal the land

The singing of songs, the piping of poems,
The drumming, dancing, delving, digging, delighting, daring,
Beautiful boldness of art
Will merely crack open the hard shell
 of the dormant heart

And hearts awakened
are unstoppable

May a song, a story, a poem, a painting, a puppet
Tap you on the shoulder
Trickle to your heart
Invite you to Dance
Ripple, rhyme, resound
a pebble tossed
an echo of peace

Sara Thomsen, Artistic Director
Echoes of Peace

Friday, March 15, 2013

Singing Delegation to Rania departs

The 22 member friendship singing delegation to Rania, Iraqi Kurdistan is en route! We've made it to Minneapolis. Next stop Amsterdam, then Istanbul, then Erbil, Iraq. Concert Sunday night in Rania!

We will post updates along the way.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Singing Delegation to Rania, Kurdistan

Echoes of Peace
Using music and the arts to build and bridge informed, 
engaged and caring communities
Dear Friends,
We are excited to announce that an Echoes of Peace singing delegation will be traveling to Rania, Iraqi Kurdistan, in the northern part of Iraq, March 15-24, 2013. Co-sponsored by Echoes of Peace and the Duluth-Rania Friendship Exchange Project, the 23 member delegation will continue the Project's efforts begun in 2009 to build friendship and reconciliation between these two cities and countries.

In the spirit of citizen based diplomacy, the Duluth-Rania Friendship Exchange Project endeavors to establish a tangible friendship based on respect and understanding through cultural and educational exchange between our two cities. Through the recognition of the special gifts that each city offers the world, we strive to create a more peaceful global community.

The mission of Echoes of Peace is to inspire awareness, action and reflection on critical social issues using music and the arts to build and bridge informed, engaged and caring communities. The singing delegation is a unique opportunity to join the peace building efforts of these two Duluth based organizations. Brooks Anderson, previous delegate to Rania and Echoes of Peace Choir member, and Sara Thomsen, Echoes of Peace Director, are co-leading the delegation. We seek your support as we move forward!

Four years ago the Duluth-Rania Friendship Exchange was launched with a Kurdish dinner as a fundraiser and send-off for the first delegation to Rania. The Echoes of Peace Choir spring concert was a benefit for that first group of six (and the concert recording traveled with them). Since that time, there have been two delegations from Rania to Duluth, and another from Duluth to Rania (pronounce “RAH-nia”).

For this third delegation to Rania, we have set a goal of raising $20,000 to help defray travel expenses and provide scholarships. The travel cost is about $2,000 a person. To support this project and learn more about it we invite you to attend our fundraising Kurdish dinner on February 8. You’ll find full details about the dinner below!

If you can’t make the February 8 dinner…
You can still lend your support by a sending a donation to “Echoes of Peace” (put “singing delegation” in the memo). You can give a donation to support the delegation in general or you may wish to support a specific delegate that is a friend, or family member. Just include a note with your request. Note that donations for the delegation in general (that are not person specific) are tax deductible.

Donate online at or mail donations to: 
Echoes of Peace, 6476 S Range Line Rd, South Range, WI 54874.

Thanks for your consideration and support!

2013 Echoes of Peace/Duluth-Rania Friendship Exchange Singing Delegation
Brooks Anderson, Sara Thomsen, Janine Bjerklie, Alana Butler, Angie Frank, Beth Holst, Bonnie Keeling, Carol Kondrath, Coral McDonnell, Eileen Gannon, Eric Anderson, Faris Keeling, Gudrun Witrak, Judy Isaacson, Kathryn Mongan-Rallis, Lauri Isaacson, Nathan Holst, Paula Pedersen, Peg Apka, Peter Wodrich, Trish O’Keefe, Wendy Ruhnke, Wendy Wright

Back by popular demand, there will be a Kurdish dinner fundraiser
Prepared by Koresh and Jill Lakhan (and team)

Friday, February 8 at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 835 W College Steet.

Dinner will be at 6:00pm with a 5:30 social time and silent auction preview.
There will be a short program during the dinner, including Echoes of Peace harmonies. 

To make a dinner reservation (required), 
RSVP to Wendy Ruhnke at 218-491-4022 or

Thank you in advance for your help in making the March 2013
Echoes of Peace Singing Delegation possible!

Duluth-Rania Friendship Exchange Background
In 2002, Michele Naar-Obed began working with the Christian Peacemaker Teams, a human rights-violence reduction organization, with an on-the-ground team in the country of Iraq. In 2006, the team moved from Baghdad to Suleimaniya in the Kurdish north of Iraq. Michele established a strong friendship with the Director of the Rania Youth Center. The director shared the deep feelings of isolation that the people of Iraq have felt from the world community. With the fall of the Baa’th Party led by Saddam Hussein, the people of Iraq now have the opportunity to enter into the world community.

In 2007, Michele returned to the Kurdish north of Iraq with a request from many Duluth citizens; “Is there a city in Iraq that would like to form a grass-roots, people to people relationship with the city of Duluth.” When the question was posed to the Director of the Rania Youth Center, it was received with overwhelming joy and hope that Duluth and Rania would form this partnership.

First steps: In May 2009, the first Duluth delegation visited the city of Rania. The delegation of 6 was heartily welcomed by the city of Rania, from elected officials to the ordinary citizen. In the 7 days the delegation spent in Rania, they toured educational, governmental and human rights facilities.  Since then, two delegations from Rania visited Duluth (2010 & 2012) and another delegation of 3 visited Rania (2011). It is our hope that we will continue these delegations focusing on cultural and educational exchange. We are committed to broadening our circle of friends in our human family where ideas, talents and wisdom can be shared in hopes of making the world a better place.

Visit “Duluth-Rania Friendship-Exchange” on Facebook

Echoes of Peace Background
In 2002, Sara Thomsen began the Echoes of Peace Choir to sing as part of the Art of Peace event in Duluth, a local response to the events of 9/11/01 and the subsequent war in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Art of Peace event, held annually for six years, brought varied artistic expressions together to inspire and instigate creativity and peacemaking. The Echoes of Peace Choir continues to grow and evolve, presenting biannual concerts and singing at various community events throughout the year. The non-audition choir currently has a membership of about seventy-five voices.

The nonprofit organization Echoes of Peace was formed in 2012, marking the 10th anniversary of the choir and continuing to grow its mission to inspire awareness, action and reflection on critical social issues using music and the arts to build and bridge informed, engaged and caring communities.

More about Echoes of Peace on Facebook 
& on Sara Thomsen’s website (