Inspiring and Heart-warming Work from Music Alumnus

DMA graduate leads homeless choir at Dallas opera house, featured on NPR

The Dallas Street Choir performed in T-shirts, then changed into formalwear for the Street Requiem. Baritone Russell Rodriguez is in front, far right, in an orange T-shirt. NPR Photo Courtesy of Mark Mullaney
Jonathan Palant (DMA 2007, MSU College of Music), organized and leads the Dallas Street Choir.
Members of the Dallas Street Choir in formal wear. NPR Photo Courtesy of Mark Mullaney

Michigan State University College of Music alumnus Jonathan Palant (DMA 2007) recently led a chorus of 20 homeless singers in a standing-room only, one-night performance at the Dallas City Performance Hall.

Prior to the big night, Palant organized and led the Dallas Street Choir in annual holiday recitals of a much smaller scale, for seven years running. His choir members continually change and are drawn from The Stewpot, Dallas’ largest homeless shelter.

“Every week brings a new challenge,” says Palant, who worked with 57 different homeless singers over just 12 weeks for the current performance. “It’s difficult to be consistent in our musical preparation. My goal, however, is that we just continue to get better.”

And get better they did. For the grand concert that evening, the Dallas Street Choir was joined by world-famous mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade in performing “Somewhere” from West Side Story. The second act combined the Dallas Street Choir with the Richland College Chamber Singers and CREDO choir for the American premiere of “Street Requiem,” a 10-movement work that honors the world’s homeless who have died on the streets. At the end of the show, the orchestra and choirs were met with patron cheers and a resounding ovation, with not a dry eye left in the house.

Listen to story below aired on National Public Radio, or visit their website for the full story.

Palant is the choral director and adjunct faculty member at Richland College in Dallas. While at MSU, Palant’s major professors were David Rayl, Jonathan Reed, Sandra Snow, and Richard Fracker.

Palant’s doctoral advisor David Rayl, professor of music and director of choral programs at MSU, says he is pleased about the coverage on NPR.

“I am so proud of this life-changing work that Jonathan is doing,” says Rayl. “To see and hear the dignity and meaning that choral singing brings to the lives of these men and women is deeply moving. He truly has ‘transformed lives’ in the best Spartan tradition.”

Watch Jonathan Palant’s video below about The Stewpot and members of the Dallas Street Choir.

Source: “Deceptive Cadence” article from National Public Radio. One Night Only: The Streets Meet The Opera House, by Wade Goodwyn.

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