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Women's chorus to visit Croatia
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  06/5/2007 | Culture And Arts | Unrated
Singing to remove landmines
Women's chorus to visit Croatia

Democrat Staff Writer

Aaron Leclerc/Staff photographer Joanne Connolly, Director of Friends of Voices From The Heart, above, describes things seen in Croatia, like violinists, as group President Becky May looks on.

PORTSMOUTH - Six years after members of the Voices from the Heart women's chorus traveled to and performed in the Republic of Ireland, they are again itching for adventure. So they searched countries whose national music they have performed, like South Africa, but after a long search, decided on Croatia.
Their 130 member group will leave next month for the small Balkan nation, where they hope to raise more money to help clear minefields. The group has raised over $35,000 to be donated to the "Adopt a Minefield" program which clears minefields from the country. While there, the group will perform in venues along the coast and at a national telethon to raise money to the deadly minefields that cover a square mileage roughly equivalent to the size of Rockingham County. "Kids can't walk to school, people can't go to the store, that is really what brought it home for me," May said. Director Joanne Connolly recently met someone who returned from Croatia with stories about seeing warning signs for minefields nearly everywhere he went. While there, the women hope to see a minefield that their donation helped to clear. The group has been practicing their Croatian repertoire and will perform with traditional Croatian choirs called "Klapa" groups while there. "In Ireland we really connected with people and a lot of us are looking forward to that again," May said. Connolly concurred adding that the trip to Ireland was one of the highlights of her life. The group is currently raising money to pay for a film crew to travel with them and document the trip. Friends of Voices from the Heart President Becky May said what makes the chorus unique is that it is a community, not just a place to come sing. Much of the music is taught orally instead of by reading sheet music and is largely composed of gospel, folk and world music. Connolly said learning and performing music this way helps everyone feel closer, both members to each other and the audience to the chorus. "I also think you feel closer to the music because it gets into you and it isn't just on paper," she said. The group is performing a collection of their favorite songs at two sold out concerts in the South Church on Saturday. Three of their Croatian pieces will be included.

On June 9, York High School students in a World Literature Class are sponsoring a "Carnival for a Cause" to raise money in the chorus name to clear landmines.

To make a donation to the group, visit their website at


Formatted for CROWN by Marko Pulji
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