The members of Awaken Ensemble share at least two things in common: musical talent and a unifying belief that “we can make a difference.”
A non-profit choir based in Arlington, Awaken Ensemble consists of music educators and students who raise awareness for other local non-profit organizations. Since its inception, Awaken Ensemble has raised awareness and donations for many non-profits, including Tarrant County College food pantry, AISD Families in Transition, Refugee Services of Texas, and Hagar’s Heart.
“In 2017, my husband Sean and I learned about AISD’s Families in Transition program,” says Mary Hale, music educator and co-founder of Awaken Ensemble. “Did you know there are thousands of Arlington ISD students who are homeless or in transitional housing? Thousands! FIT provides services to those students and families such as counseling, food, transportation, and much more. While the program is funded by the school district, private donations help fill gaps.”
Mary and Sean decided to help fill that gap. They organized a benefit concert including choirs from Martin High School, the University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington Children’s Chorus, FUMC Chancel Choir, and a small choir of their musical colleagues, students, and friends. Over 500 people attended the performance, and they raised more than $2000 for FIT.
“That small choir left us all with such happiness in our hearts,” says Mary. “We knew our world needed more of this: more beautiful music, more happy feelings, more gathering of musical friends who just get it, and more raising awareness for other helping organizations in and around Arlington.”
After that first performance, Sean and Mary continued to develop the small choir until in 2019, when Awaken Ensemble officially became a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
Sean Hale, Director of Music at First United Methodist Church Arlington, serves as the choir’s conductor. For each concert, Sean selects a theme and builds a program inspired by their non-profit partner. Sometimes Awaken will partner with other choirs, too, just as it did for its first performance.
“There are so many benefits when people and organizations work together,” says Mary. “We find motivation and encouragement from one another, we keep each other accountable in positive ways, we are strengthened by combining resources, and we find commonalities with one another, not to mention celebrating successes with friends is far better than celebrating successes alone.”
Awaken Ensemble’s combination of talent, energy, philanthropy, and collaboration has caught the attention of the Texas Choral Directors Association. The choir has been invited to perform at the TCDA 2023 Summer Convention in San Antonio.
“I love singing in Awaken because it’s a different kind of singing,” says choir member Cesar Vélez. “It’s the kind of singing coming from multiple people lending their talents for an altruistic cause; doing it solely for the joy that music brings. That kind of experience can sometimes be hard to find, and I’m glad we have it here in Arlington.”
To help Awaken Ensemble cover its travel expenses to San Antonio, visit awakenensemble.wordpress.com.