We will be performing one of our favorite songs, “The Awakening,” at the Greater Seattle Choral Consortium’s Seattle Sings choral festival next weekend. This song tells the powerful and visceral tale of a person who dreams of (or, more appropriately, has a nightmare about) a world without music. The person later awakens to rejoice in the wonder and power that is music. While the music is tremendously emotional by itself, the story behind the song adds even deeper meaning. The composer, Joseph M. Martin (b. 1959), grew up in a violent inner-city school. His one solace was music, especially after connecting with his junior high music teacher, Doris Clark. She provided a sanctuary for many of the students in the choir room, and challenged and inspired her students to soar to new heights. Unfortunately, Clark was brutally murdered in the choir room following one of the concerts in Martin’s final year of junior high school. The students returned to find their room padlocked and sealed off with police tape, ending the sanctuary and their world of music. “The Awakening” was written as the composer’s journey to healing and joy through the power of music, and as a testament to the teacher who inspired him to transcend the hardships of daily life. This song was commissioned for the Texas Choral Directors Association, to inspire music teachers to lead like Doris Clark had.