As a prolific art song composer, Juliana Hall is no stranger to the idea of elevating and amplifying the voices of writers through music. But as one of five composers selected by art song group Lynx Project, Hall is exploring a new challenge: setting to music the often unheard voices of individuals with autism. This endeavor is part of Lynx Project’s “Autism Advocacy Project.” The four exceptional youth, aged 12-17 are primarily non-verbal, and they communicate by pointing to letters on a board in a process called the Rapid Prompting Method.
Lynx Project co-director Caitleen Kahn says, “Art alone cannot change the world, but art can create conversations — and conversations can change the world.” It is Lynx Project’s hope that this project will start a conversation about autism, about acceptance and about the universality of the human condition in a way that will, slowly but surely, help transform the world.
“For my contribution,” says Hall, “I have written a small cycle of three songs for tenor and piano—Great Camelot—on the wonderfully poetic and deeply beautiful words of Sameer Dahar.” Sameer is a strong advocate for those who have no voice. He uses an iPad and letterboards to spell and type for communication. Despite the challenges inherent in autism, he is successfully pursuing his studies at the Ohio Virtual Academy online school and was inducted into the National Junior Honor Society. His goal is to become an astrophysicist and writer. He is currently typing a book describing his alternative experience living with autism. Sameer participated on a self-advocacy panel at the 2014 and 2015 USAAA World Conference and presented his first PowerPoint presentation on his life experience with nonvocal autism, at the 2015 SAAA World Conference.
World Premiere performances of the “Autism Advocacy Project” songs by Juliana Hall and the other four commissioned composers (Joel Balzun, Emily Cooley, Aristea Mellos, and Travis Reynolds) will take place on October 27 & 28, 2017 in Cincinnati.
Read more about the Lynx Project’s Autism Advocacy Project: