Artistic Director Stephen Lewis was hired in December of 2019 to lead the New Mexico Peace Choir and you know what happened next. Instead of saying “Sorry, we don’t need you now,” the choir members kept Lewis working with virtual rehearsals and later with producing YouTube videos.

“Individual singers recorded just their parts with a piano track,” Lewis said. “Then I would conduct an invisible choir on video and our talented technician (and singer) Tim McAlpine would splice it all together. The choir is many members’ main artistic outlet, so this way everyone in their own isolation could still perform together.”

Choir members, who have traveled to sing at Carnegie Hall and overseas, are now getting a chance to perform communally again in public and on livestream. The Spring concert entitled “Songs of Love and Peace” will be open this weekend, May 14 and 15 at 3pm, at Central United Methodist Church on University Blvd. They will sing uplifting songs from Broadway, pop music, Pete’s Dragon (“Something Wild”) and an LGBTQ anthem written after the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, FL.

Featured are a Ukrainian lullaby, “Oy Khodyt’ Son Kolo Vikon” and “Five Hebrew Love Songs.” “We rarely did a foreign language song and now we’re doing several in one concert,” said Lewis.

More recognizable tunes include “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers and “Peace Train.” There also will be a few surprises for audiences to relish. Lewis characterizes the choir’s reason for being as delivering “texts that lift them up, inspire and make a positive change in the collective conscious and help us be better stewards of the nature we’ve been given here on this planet.”

Lewis praises their accompanist, Martha Dalager, for her talent and collaborative abilities. Dalager teaches piano at UNM and has performed with many in-state groups like New Mexico Symphonic Chorus, Pro Musica in Santa Fe and Santa Fe Opera Mosaics. She also accompanies the Vocal Artistry Art Song Festival, of which she is a founding board member.

“She is as active a performer as anyone in our choir,” he said. “She is an accomplished pianist and as gifted at shaping the music as she is at playing it. I don’t know how I lucked out. I am more fortunate than any director in the Southwest to work with someone like her.”

As Lewis knows from both personal and professional experience, his entire choir practices what they preach.

“I have been blown away by how generous the choir is, to me and to each other,” Lewis said. “They take care of each other–they are generous, kind, outgoing and try to live a life of peace to inspire others to be better across the globe. Since I moved here, I’ve been married and we’ve had our first child. They have been so kind and they push me to be as good as I can be.”

Tickets: nmpeacechoir.org, $20 general in-person and livestream; $15 seniors; $0 for children up to 12. Also available at the door. More information: 505.859.3829