By Nathan Cheatham
A Bristol church will be hosting a concert this weekend in honor of longtime journalist Steve Majerus-Collins who quit the Bristol Press in December.
The concert, “The Bill of Rights: Ten Amendments in Eight Motets”, will be performed by Wesleyan University’s Neely Bruce who wrote the composition. The concert will be performed at Prospect United Methodist Church at 99 Summer St., Bristol on Sunday at 4p.m.
There is no cost to attend, though donations will be collected to help pay for the event and perhaps help Collins and his family. A small reception will follow which is sponsored in part by Wesleyan University, the Yarde family and C.V. Mason Insurance Agency.
Bruce’s composition is based off the rhythms he found while reading the Bill of Rights, which lead him to set the entire first ten amendments to music. Bruce said he decided to set the First Amendment to music after reading a 2004 Knight Foundation study that found half the nation’s youth had no problem with the government censoring news, according to a press release about the event.
“The magnificent rhythms of the text were so captivating, and so much fun to set to music, that I decided to set the entire Bill of Rights to music,” he said.
Bruce said he wrote his composition “in the style of William Billings, America’s first great composer and a contemporary of the Founders.”
“The music I have written is tuneful and memorable,” he said. “I already know that if you sing it you will become more and more aware of the Bill of Rights, and the condition is ongoing, perhaps permanent.”
His goal, he said, “is to have every singer in the United States sing this piece. I’ve got a long way to go, but the performance in Bristol will be Number 24. One step at a time.”
Collins quit in December after 22 years of covering government and politics for The Bristol Press. He is now freelancing for CT News Junkie, an online news site, and recently wrote an e-book on what a Donald Trump presidency might be like.
“I wanted to do this for Steve because his First Amendment rights and have been violated big time,” Bruce said.
“A lot of people’s rights are being violated all the time in this country,” Bruce said. “Read the Bill of Rights. You can’t exercise your rights if you don’t know what they are.”
Collins resignation drew national attention to New Britain Herald and Bristol Press Publisher Michael Schroeder’s ethical lapses involved in an article published in the Herald about a Las Vegas Judge.
Schroeder recently published a letter in the Block Island Times, where he also acts as publisher, where he acknowledged the ethical lapses and looked to put readers at ease.
“Since taking over the paper on Block Island,” wrote Schroeder. “I have taken pains to ensure that the same high standards of editorial quality that readers expect are maintained. My intent is to build on that strong legacy.”