Songs of Hope, a critically acclaimed group of youth vocalists from around the world, will perform at noon, Friday, July 27. The concert, free and open to the public, will be held on the John P. Monahan Plaza at the University of St. Thomas.

Songs of Hope is an international performance group of youth, ages 10 to 22, from around the world. The performers will wear their native, traditional dress while singing songs and dancing to Motown, rock, blues, world and folk music.

Songs of Hope performers. Photo courtesy of Songs of Hope.

Songs of Hope performers. Photo courtesy of Songs of Hope. (Click on the image for a larger view.)

This year’s group includes participants from Israel, Turkey, Guatemala, Mexico, Colombia, China, Vietnam, Madagascar, Italy, Russia and Bulgaria, as well as Minnesota. Five young performers from Iraq also will join the group this year as part of a collaboration between the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project in Minneapolis and Muslim Peacemaker Teams in Iraq.

Songs of Hope co-founder Jeanne Junge said, “It’s interesting, with young artists from Vietnam, Russia, China and Iraq coming this summer, Songs of Hope will have a lot of children from former enemies of the United States on stage, making music together, enjoying themselves, and − we hope – inspiring their audiences to think thoughts of peace not war.”

The approximately 75 performers are part of an annual tradition that dates to 1994. They participate in a six-week summer camp that includes crafts, travel, cultural outings and sports. Upon arrival, they rehearse their songs for three weeks before embarking on tour of more than a dozen performances throughout Minnesota in July during the last half of camp.