With their upcoming “A Concert for Rage,” Windsong is ready to channel notes of anger towards meaningful change
Feminist chorus

(This article first appeared in the Buckeye Flame)

What happens when Ohio’s feminist chorus, a prestigious university and a philosopher all get angry about racial injustice?

Audiences in northeast Ohio are about to find out as Windsong, Cleveland’s feminist chorus, has teamed up with Case Western Reserve University’s chorale and author and philosopher Dr. Myisha Cherry in “A Concert for Rage,” which will be performed on Saturday, April 27th at 6 pm at the Maltz Performing Arts Center in University Circle.

The Buckeye Flame spoke with Jessica Steuver, Windsong’s artistic director, about this unique upcoming event. To listen, click play directly below or read our (edited) conversation beneath the audio link.

For folks who don’t know about Windsong, tell us about the chorus?

Windsong is Cleveland’s feminist chorus. We are actually in our 45th year of existence this year. The chorus accepts a wide variety of people, including a lot of folks from the LGBTQ+ community. But we are open to anybody who can sing treble music and very passionate about feminism, about social justice and, of course, about singing.

How are Windsong concerts different from all other concerts?

As we work on and sing about different topics of social justice and intersectional feminism, it’s important that our message does not stop when the concert is over. We really like to use our concerts as an opportunity to give audience members and choir members resources to take the next steps based on the specific issues we are singing about.

We raise money at our concerts for local organizations that tie in with our concert theme and we are all constantly, myself included, working towards this long journey of not only being better musicians and building stronger community, but also continuing that work of learning more about intersectional feminism and anti-racism.

“A Concert for Rage” sounds intriguing and also a little bit intense. Why this material and why now?

I was inspired by Dr. Myisha Cherry’s book, The Case for Rage: Why Anger is Essential to Anti-Racist Struggle. Something about it just really hit me as a cis white woman who is genuinely passionate about creating as much equity and inclusivity as I can in all the spaces that I have any control over. Reading that book reinforced how much more I still have to learn and grow. And that’s a continuous, lifelong messy process.

But also, the big takeaway from the book is that the concept of rage oftentimes is seen as a bad word. We’re taught that we shouldn’t be angry: only love, peace, et cetera. One very important tenet of Myisha Cherry’s book is what she calls Lordean rage, based on the poet Audre Lorde. It is that rage is not a bad thing. If you are so angry about injustice, that doesn’t mean you’re full of hate.

With “A Concert for Rage,” we have selected pieces that highlight different parts of Cherry’s work in terms of how we can’t just have this blind, untethered rage. We have to kind of channel our rage into goal-setting, solidarity and next steps. We also have a plentiful amount of resources for the audience. So if they got anything from this concert, they too can carry on with their journey about how to be anti-racist and inclusive.

The concert ends. Audiences will leave the space. How do you want them leaving? What do you want them to get out of this experience?

I would like it if audience members felt moved enough by the stories that the music is telling to then really look inside themselves and account for their own privilege and account for the fact that everybody constantly still has more to learn. There really is no end to it. This is just a constant conscious work of being anti-racist and being inclusive.

We have many groups involved in this concert. The two main collaborators here are Windsong and Case Western Reserve University’s University Chorale, which I also have the pleasure of directing. We also have a lot of guest singers coming in from other local Cleveland organizations and ensembles. So we are really trying to utilize that idea of solidarity by reaching out to our community members to not just listen, but also to sing.

And one of the most exciting things about this concert is that we are going to have Myisha Cherry there with us. She’s going to be doing an audience talkback session about halfway through the concert and a book-signing afterwards.

The final piece of the concert is a long, beautiful piece called “Weather” by Dr. Rollo Dilworth, using the words from the poem “Weather” by Claudia Rankine. The whole work is based on the chaos intersecting in 2020 with the pandemic and the increased visibility of Black people killed by police. It is such a powerful, thoughtful work of art. And we get to actually also have the opportunity to Zoom with Rollo Dilworth to hear more about all this stuff from the culture bearers who created it. 


“A Concert for Rage” will be performed on Saturday, April 27 at 6pm at the Maltz Performing Arts Center, 1855 Ansel Rd in Cleveland. For tickets, click here.

Learn more about Windsong by visiting their website.