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“Concert of Hope” using music to bring people together

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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – There’s an ensemble of people in the area who are using music to connect and heal. Students at Marshall University are preparing for what they call an emotional piece. It’s the “Concert of Hope.”

Julia Birney plays the trumpet and says the concert is more than just the sounds coming from the instruments.

“To use the music as a way to heal,” Birney said. “We’re using this to spread awareness for substance use disorder.”

The students are joining the men’s choir from Recovery Point in Huntington. Recovery Point is a non-profit that helps people with substance use disorder. The two groups have been practicing for months.

Dr. Adam Dalton, director of bands at Marshall University, along with his colleague, Dr. Briana Nannen, an assistant professor with the university, says bringing the two groups together was essential in using music to take someone through the journey of dealing with substance use disorder.

Dalton says the men’s choir wrote the music and lyrics for what they’re going to sing. Nannen has been going to Recovery Point once-a-week to teach and prepare the choir for the concert. She says she sees and hears changes not only in their performance, but also in herself.

“There really is a place for music and a place for more members of our community to kind of step outside of our comfort zones and to reach out to people that are hurting,” Nannen said.

Dalton says he was inspired by famous composer Scott McCallister who wrote a piece titled “AMP” which is about McCallister’s student who died of a drug overdose. The students will be playing that piece at Thursday’s concert.

“The piece is just so special and so moving,” Dalton said. “It’s such a great sense of connection to Marshall, to this community.”

The organizers of this unusual pairing say they hope each of the players better understands the others – and their music is bridging the gap.

The Concert of Hope is Thursday, Dec. 5, at 7:30 p.m. at Johnson Memorial Methodist Church at 510 10th St. It is free and open to the public.

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