Anyone who’s attended United Church services has likely heard one of Ron Klusmeier’s hymns. The composer and musician has penned upward of 700, including many in Voices United and More Voices. He has also used his musical talents to raise money for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, which works toward food security worldwide. Now he’s stepping down from a national role in the organization after raising more than $1.25 million.
The first partnership started in 2012 with the Tour of a Lifetime, which took Klusmeier across Canada to perform in 140 different communities and raised more than $60,000. At the end of the tour, the Foodgrains Bank approached Klusmeier and his partner, Christina Bogucki, to be regional representatives for its British Columbia chapter.
“Of course, music is always in my blood,” Klusmeier says, “so I started thinking about some other way we could engage people across the country.”
The Common Vision concert series began to blossom into reality. The idea was to give communities of all sizes a template to host their own fundraising concerts. The package includes Klusmeier’s music as well as an AV presentation created by Bogucki.
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Klusmeier demurred when asked how many hours he put into the musical arrangements, which can be performed by virtually any combination of voices and instruments. But suffice to say this project was a true labour of love.
The concerts began in 2016 and have raised more than $250,000. The federal government matches donations to the Foodgrains Bank on a four-to-one basis, putting the total amount at more than $1.25 million.
Both Klusmeier and Bogucki are stepping down from the project, though it will continue under new leadership. “The work has been incredibly rewarding,” Klusmeier says. “If it weren’t for needing to face the reality of our ages and allowing time for a succession plan, we wouldn’t have even considered stopping.”
This story first appeared in the October 2019 issue of Broadview with the title “Hymn writer’s music raises $1.25 million for food security.” For more of Broadview’s award-winning content, subscribe to the magazine today.