Hit play below to listen to our Arts Alive feature on Tonality’s upcoming Stories from Home.

The subject of home and displacement from home is a subject that is hitting far too close to home these days up and down the state of California as wildfires turn an abstract concept into something deeply human and, in so many cases, deeply tragic as well. The LA-based choir Tonality examines the concept of home and tells stories of refugees, homelessness, displacement, and immigration through music in their concert called Stories of Home.

Alex Blake is the music director of Tonality. He tells me, on the surface, it may not seem like it, but this is a holiday concert.

“Just the story of displacement and what home means,” Blake says, “and how a lot of us take that comfort for granted, especially at a time when a lot of things are just assumed about the holidays: everyone is usually in a joyful place, you have all these gifts, and for a lot of people that’s not the case. For the first Christmas story that was not the case. Especially in Los Angeles, you don’t have to go that far to see examples of that.”

Alex Blake tells me tackling issues of social justice through music is the mission of Tonality. He says a watershed moment for him was the bitter, contentious American election of 2016.

“I think there was a lot of anger and a lot of posting of articles and hashtagging,” Blake says. “There wasn’t a lot of action. There wasn’t a lot of connection. For the people who really needed help the most, I felt like we argued for them but not with them. Instead of people being at the center of these arguments, it just became about the arguments and about these moral pedestals. So, I think if we can make these subjects—through music, through what we do, and through the stories at our concerts—connected to actual people and faces and humanity, then I think we’ll have a better time letting some of that ego go and some of those defenses of what it means to be wrong or right and just learn how to connect so we can come together and create solutions. Because it’s not going to be made by one side.”

Alex Blake is the music director of the choir Tonality. Their concert Stories of Home takes place Sunday, November 25th at 7:00 at First Congregational Church of Los Angeles. More information is available at ourtonality.org.

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