by MICHELLE SOLLEY for Cascade A&E
It started with a simple four-part chord. Bend resident Nancy Ueland says that chord saved her life. It was also the inspiration for Harmony4Women, an annual benefit concert that helps change lives of women in Central Oregon.
Nancy grew up surrounded by music. Her father was a harmonizer, so it was only natural that when he had four daughters he would teach them to sing in four-part harmony. “Singing was second-nature for all of us,” she says. Even during their mother’s dying days, the four sisters crooned harmonic family favorites at her bedside.
Years later, Nancy faced her own life-threatening illness. At a crucial point in her care, the chord came into the story. “I was suddenly aware that I had been hearing an ever-present, underlying tone,” she says. That chord became a symbol reminding her of the power of music—not just sung by one person, but by many. “You cannot sing harmony by yourself,” Nancy explains. That underlying tone of four combined notes provided the inner strength she needed for recovery, and eventually the inspiration for her to help others as well.
In 2009 Nancy helped organize the first Harmony4Women concert in active collaboration with nonprofit organizations that serve and educate women throughout Central Oregon: Grandma’s House (a safe shelter for expectant teens), Women’s Resource Center (serving women in transition and crisis) and Bella Acappella Harmony (a women’s ensemble and the host chorus of Harmony4Women). Every year dozens of women come together to perform “a cappella” with music that not only touches the hearts of those attending the performance, but also enhances the lives of women throughout the region.
On December 7 scores of women with a variety of life experiences and ages will blend their voices on the Tower Theatre stage for two performances (2pm and 7pm). This year’s concert, That’s What Friends Are For, reflects the recurring theme in Nancy’s life. “You can’t do it alone,” she says. “It all starts with a very personal and intimate sound and when each individual blends with the others in the chorus, it comes back to you as harmony.”
And it’s those chords that project into the audience and ultimately throughout the community, benefitting organizations that serve, educate, nurture, support and inspire Central Oregon.
Tickets are available at TowerTheatre.org.