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Cimino: Musicians raise awareness 'With One Voice'

I've been thinking about … a really good idea.

Thirteen years ago, I was a board member of the Family and Children's Services of Central Maryland, Carroll County Partnership. We were casting about for a fresh idea to do some fundraising for a new domestic violence safe house; West End Place, a senior day care center; affordable housing for seniors; and the counseling services provided by the organization in Carroll County. Please, we said, not another golf tournament or dinner dance.

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That summer, Joe and I had spent a week in Paris, guided by a friend who had been born and grew up there. To say we had the best possible view of the city hardly states the case. Micheline Cardillo was her name and she knew Paris like the back of her hand. She told us that The Louvre museum closed every Thursday when she was in school so that the Parisian school children could visit on a regular basis. How's that for a classroom? Micheline picked our hotel and made the reservations. You know that famous shot from all the old movies when the heroine opens up the window and there stands the Eiffel Tower? Well, that was our room. She would pick us up every morning, wear us out and bring us home at the end of the day. On one of those excursions, we stopped at the gothic Church of the Madeleine.

After exploring the church we saw an advertisement for a concert for the next evening. It was by the Paris Opera Symphony and their chorus doing Mozart's Requiem. Of course we attended. As we sat there enthralled by the music we realized that the beautiful new church that had just been dedicated in Westminster, St John's Catholic Church, would be an ideal site for such a concert.

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Now, I'm not saying we had the Paris Opera Company in town last week, but for the past 13 years, St. John's has hosted an event we call "With One Voice, An Evening of Fine Music." And very fine music it is. All the groups who donate their time and talent to this event are local but one. We try to vary the participants from year to year, but we are privileged to have such talented and selfless groups such as Masterworks Choral of Carroll County, McDaniel Madrigal and Gospel choirs, the Children's Chorus of Carroll County, the Old Line Statesmen, and Coram Deo from Howard County. Other groups are invited and come from time to time depending on their schedules. We have had the Carroll Singers, the Westminster Trombone Choir, the Carroll Senior Singers, Sharon Women's Ensemble, the choir from New Life for Girls, St. John's Adult Senior Choir, Liturgical Dancers, the Carroll County Strings Project, Tony Gerard, Carroll's Idol, Genesis One, a rock band and talented virtuosos like Ted Dix on St. John's magnificent organ.

I can tell you it is a beautiful thing to sit here in Westminster and hear sometimes close to 200 people raise their voices as one to bring attention to a terrible situation encountered by a vulnerable part of our community. Most years all the performers return to the alter and sing a familiar and meaningful song as if With One Voice to end the evening and to bring an end to domestic abuse in our beloved Carroll County.

Audrey Cimino is executive director of The Community Foundation of Carroll County. She writes from Westminster.

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