May 13, 2024 - News

Homeless families craft lullabies with symphony and songwriters

A female Oregon Symphony musician singing and playing guitar at a mic.

Songwriters such as Anna Tivel and Oregon Symphony musicians crafted lullabies with parents staying at the Family Village Shelter for a concert Tuesday. Photo: Courtesy of Oregon Symphony

Musicians from the Oregon Symphony have crafted customized lullabies with parents at Path Home's Family Village Shelter that will be sung to their children at a concert Tuesday at Alberta Rose Theatre.

Why it matters: Participants in the Lullaby Project say it restores some dignity to families going through hard times and creates a personal artifact that can last a lifetime.

Zoom out: The project began at Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute and a public hospital in the Bronx and has spread to other cities. This is Portland's fifth year.

How it works: On "Creative Day," the musicians, songwriters and parents met at Path Home's shelter on SE 92nd Avenue.

  • "The musicians float around and they say, 'Do you want cello in your song?' and record them on their iPhones," Brandi Tuck, executive director of Path Home, told Axios.
  • They talk the parent through creating a melody: "Do you want it to go up here or down?" said Tuck.
  • The musicians and writers ask the parents about their hopes for their children, what nicknames they use, and for other personal details, to focus their feelings for their child.

Zoom in: One stated goal is to strengthen the bond between parent and child.

  • "These singer-songwriters deeply listen to the parents, and their words often become the lyrics of the song," said Tuck.

The musicians then go away and write the song, arrange it and create the sheet music.

  • "The parents say they feel closer to their kids, empowered and confident for the first time in a long time," said Tuck.
  • One mom who arrived with her song already written worked with singer songwriter Gabriel Kahane on a final piece. At the end, "she said 'I can't believe my words became this beautiful song,'" OS education director Annissa Bolder told Axios.

If you go: The 10-song concert starts at 6:30pm Tuesday at Alberta Rose Theatre ($10).

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