Disability Aesthetics and Praxis in Choral Music

This session will explore innovative choral music practices that enable and empower singers experiencing disabilities. Singers from the Notes from the Heart Music Program in Pittsburgh will collaborate with conductor Andrew Clark in a lecture-panel-demonstration that explores inclusive and accessible approaches in their creative process and values drawn from their collective work that can inform choral practice in every setting. In reimagining concepts of choral music through the lens of disability experience and aesthetics, we discover liberating resources for artistic creativity that shatter conventions and establish new canons of beauty and possibility for all of us.

Defining disability as a cultural construction rather than as a medical pathology, this session will consider the practice of choral music as a vehicle of empowerment, reflecting on music’s generative role in shaping communities and advancing social justice and human rights. In the words of ethnomusicologist Michael Bakan, music programs, like Pittsburgh’s own Notes from the Heart, “hold the capacity to contribute productively and meaningfully to the causes of disability self-advocacy and quality of life, modeling new horizons of possibility for the cultivation of neurodiverse environments of cultural co-creation and self- determination while transforming public perceptions of disability from the customary tropes of deficit, disorder, despair, hopelessness, and awareness to alternate visions of wholeness, ability, diversity, possibility, and acceptance.”