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Monterey Peninsula Voices (A Story by Community Builders for Monterey County)
Community Builders for Monterey County

Monterey Peninsula Voices (A Story by Community Builders for Monterey County)

“It’s magical,” Dr. Hasegawa smiles. “All of those people coming together … just having that many people work on something for fifteen weeks and then delivering a concert is pretty special … I just love this community of people.”

Tip-toeing through the quiet corridors of the First Presbyterian Church of Monterey, the gentle hum of choral music fills the space with joyful melodies and the pitter-patter of rain on the steeple accompanying the choralists. Stained glass portraits of holy figures, high vaulted ceilings and welcoming pews set the tone for the striking Monterey Peninsula Voices (MPV) choral group. 

Laughter fills the room as conductor Dr. Sean Boulware samples the sopranos’ first line of “United in Purpose,” performed at their Spring 2023 concert. Just one of many tunes chosen as a symbol of the group’s vision of connection through radical compassion, inclusivity, diversity and acceptance; the camaraderie between group members is a warm welcome.     

for community building


MPV continues to make their mark as a non-audition communal choral group welcome to all. Their focus on diversity has allowed for a range of genres; from pop, easy-listening, multicultural scores to more complex classical pieces.


 Self-proclaimed as an extended family whose reach goes beyond singing, the possibilities of community connection through artistic expression transcends beyond choral music.


As a former concert saxophonist, choral music was a natural attraction for MVP President Dr. Chris Hasegawa. Though he struggled with the smoky atmosphere of music clubs of the 1970s, he found a new love for performance with MPV.

“If you can sing and can hold a tune, then you can sing in our choir; and we have everybody from people that have sung professionally for a long time, to people who have never sung before and have only sung in the shower and they want to try this.”


Dr. Hasegawa points out the importance of revitalizing the diversity of art programs throughout our community as we continue to recuperate from the COVID-19 pandemic. MPV diligently pushes to reach regions of Monterey County in their efforts to bridge cultural gaps between cities.

 “... being able to introduce our audiences to these other artists and their audiences to us, we just think it’s a win-win and more than that, it’s incredibly important.” 


Community connection has been a consistent motive for the group dating back to its inception as the Monterey Peninsula College Community Chorus in 1962, their vision being “to sing in a healthy, vibrant, and harmonious world where people of every ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and ability feel respected, valued, and appreciated.” They mindfully


acknowledge the impact associated with the political climate of the last several years, specifically the increasing prevalence of Xenophobia and socio-political unrest. MPV’s efforts are a direct action aiming to create space to consider these issues while inspiring audiences to be the change.

Long-time choir members Julie Armstrong and Sandra Weaver share how MPV has helped them engage in community, “I feel [the group] connects me with people who have a whole lot in common. It was a lifeline during COVID, it saved a lot of us from feeling very isolated.” 


The group put on a virtual performance during the pandemic. “It was quite a labor of love … we all had to sing in isolation, then video ourselves in isolation, then [Dr. Sean Boulware] was the one who put it all together,” detailing the group’s resiliency during this time. 


Art in its many mediums has been known to activate endorphins–a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of happiness, remedying pandemic-era isolation. Both Armstrong and Weaver recall feeling immense joy during this trying time.


Titled “Stronger Together,” this year’s spring concert was held at both Salinas High School and Santa Catalina School. The concert program inspires feelings of self-compassion and connection with tunes such as You Are Enough, When I Rise Up, and What If I Could Tell You. 


“This [concert] will really be about empowerment, youth empowerment.” 


MPV will be singing with both Salinas High School and Pacific Grove High School choirs with the inclusion of two young adult artist groups projecting visual artwork. This collaboration aims to nurture connection and an empathetic understanding for those not battling their own mental health, while simultaneously bridging generational and community gaps.       


“It’s magical,” Dr. Hasegawa smiles. “All of those people coming together … just having that many people work on something for fifteen weeks and then delivering a concert is pretty special … I just love this community of people.”


He emphasizes how the cultivation of joy and connection through the arts can be an invaluable tool to build bridges, empathy and a mutual respect for others of different walks of life. 


With an extensive education in biochemistry, Dr. Hasegawa connects the dots between his history in the sciences and choral music, “... It’s kind of organic in the same way that I thought of biochemistry … how things interact with each other inside the body and

similarly. Much like Hasegawa’s connection to biochemistry and music, MPV and contributing arts programs, bring their differences to the table to create something special; a unified solidarity of artistic celebration to be enjoyed by all. 


Looking to kickstart your own musical journey? Head over to the MPV website for membership details and be sure to check out their Facebook for the latest news and events! 

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