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An Inspiring New Facebook Group Brings Live Music to Thousands

An Inspiring New Facebook Group Brings Live Music to Thousands

Screenshot of a video of Jewish musician Julie Silver smiling with a guitar

Jewish music recording and touring artists Beth Schafer and Stacy Beyer recently launched Harmony in Unison, a new Facebook group that offers live original music, five nights a week, performed on a virtual stage for an audience of 8,500 Facebook users – and growing.

Each evening, a designated performer sets up his or her iPhone or iPad and begins video recording, through the Harmony in Unison group page. The artists grab their guitar or sit down at a keyboard and play a musical set of 30 minutes to an hour – and each night, thousands of the group’s members tune in to watch. All videos are archived in the group for belated viewing.

Schafer writes,

“As musicians, we just want to offer some moments of sanity, of beauty and of peace. What I thought would be a fun little project has grown exponentially. We hit a nerve, our community is in need. I’m so glad that the simple offering of music can help unite and heal. The real challenge is whether we can help unite and heal a community beyond ourselves. Can music inspire us to reach into uncomfortable territory and not only fight for what we believe in, but make peace in the process? That remains to be seen – but I hope so.”

Once a part of the group, members can check out upcoming events, “meet up” with other members for live concerts, listen to amazing music, chat live online, and sing along with the 100+ artists who have graciously offered to share their time and talent.

These incredible singer/songwriters have so far livestreamed from their studios, living rooms, offices, and even performance venues in front of a live audience. Because Facebook Live allows for comments to be logged in real-time, performers are also able to interact with group members and even take musical requests. Each night is a unique experience – enriching, soul-stirring, exciting, and spontaneous.

One member of the group, named Wendy, writes of the experience:

“[L]istening live with the sense of being present within the kehillah [community], and also being able to dip back into the archived sessions, allows for cathartic release, healing, and affirmation of positive tribal and religious identity and values. This is a repository of pure creativity and spirit. So many levels of deep meaning and support!”

Members can enjoy these special performances anywhere they can log into Facebook by visiting the Harmony in Unison group.

Beth launched Harmony in Unison’s first live-streamed concert on December 27th, 2016, and Stacy followed on the 28th. The positive feedback they received to the project was extraordinary. Beyer who is both an artist and activist based in Nashville, and Schafer, the Bunzl Family Cantorial Chair at Temple Sinai in Atlanta, believe that in these uncertain times, there is a craving for meaningful, consistent connection, and that music can be that conduit to bring people together in a positive, affirming way.

Beyer writes,

“We are now watching the results of our efforts blossom, as their community of artists and members continues to grow quickly and in large numbers. The gifts each artist offers so willingly are met with a deep and sincere appreciation on the part of the members. It’s not only the music that is important, but the expressions of gratitude in just being together, sharing the moments, and feeling the solid strength of their community.”

The fact that the group grew so big so quickly is a tribute to the void Harmony in Unison fills for so many of us, standing at a cultural and technological crossroads that speaks to a community in need of musical uplift and solace – in a way that is relevant and accessible.

Five nights a week, Harmony in Unison provides an online meeting place where music and conversation flow in a loving, supportive, and creative environment that lifts the spirit and brings hope to the heart. Beth and Stacy have not just warmed my heart in these cold days, but have built a home for a remarkable community.

To join, visit Harmony in Unison on Facebook and request to be added as a member.

Mark Pelavin is the chief program officer and director of the Biennial at the Union for Reform Judaism.

Mark J. Pelavin

Published: 1/11/2017

Categories: Jewish Life, Arts & Culture, Music
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