Britt Music Composition to Highlight Homelessness

The majority of the chorus will be people who have experienced homelessness themselves.

Posted: Jul 25, 2018 12:54 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. -- Deniese Sanchez knows firsthand what it's like to be homeless. 

She used to be a hospice nurse. She volunteered in her community. Then tragedy struck.

"I had a traumatic event that happened, and it left me with PTSD," Sanchez said. "At one point I was staying in the Walmart parking lot."

She has a home now through Rogue Retreat, a housing assistance program, but not everyone is so lucky.

Matthew Vorderstrasse is the development director at Rogue Retreat. He says there isn't enough development to meet the housing demand. 

"The stereotype that we have is that the homeless community is transient nature," Vorderstrasse said. "What we’re finding is that isn't necessarily the case. Most of the individuals we work with are individuals that work in this community, are raised in this community and became homeless in this community."

According to the Jackson County Housing Authority, there is a 2 percent rental vacancy in the county.

To bring attention to the housing crisis, Rogue Retreat, the Britt Festival, and the Maslow Project are teaming up. The festival helped commission a piece that tackles the issue.

Teddy Abrams is the music director for the orchestra. He says this song could change the discourse around housing insecurity. 

"The piece become something truly beyond the work of music," Abrams said. "It becomes an experience it could actually change the way we think about and understand these issues that are around us that are just so easy to ignore and easy to walk right past and that forces us to stop and live with that."

The majority of the chorus will be people who have experienced homelessness themselves, and the way the lyrics are laid out mimic an entry form on an emergency housing shelter form.

"Anybody who's ever been involved in anything around homelessness or children that are in dangerous or difficult situations knows about this form," Abrams said "It's a very famous form. Every time, pretty much, you come to a shelter you're given this thing and this is what they use to determine your mental health, and your financial stability, your family resources, things like that."

After the performance, audience members will break up into small groups to discuss the issues at hand. 

The performance will now be indoors because of poor air quality. It will start at 7:30 p.m., July 27, 2018. It will be at the North Medford High School Auditorium. 

Click here for ticket information.

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