The Illinois State University Women’s Choir will perform the world premiere of An Open Letter to Suicide at 3 p.m. on Sunday, November 13, in the Center for the Performing Arts Concert Hall.

In addition to the Women’s Choir, this concert will feature the Men’s Glee Club and the advanced treble choir, Belle Voix. Choirs will perform a variety of literature from composers like Johannes Brahms, Joan Szymko, and Andrea Ramsey.

On December 7, 2015, Chelsea Smith decided she was done with depression. On a bench in the Bone Student Center, the education student wrote a spoken word poem detailing her struggles with mental illness and suicidal thoughts. She recorded herself performing the spoken word poem in her dorm room and posted it publicly on Facebook. It quickly gained over 100 comments, 84 shares, and over 5,000 views.

Smith’s poem caught the attention of Kristin Moroni, director of the Illinois State University Women’s Choir. With her permission, Moroni sought out a composer to transform the poem into a piece for the ISU Women’s Choir to perform. Cristian Larios, a junior music composition and music education major, agreed to compose the music for the project.

The piece features a variety of haunting melodies and motives to represent the internal struggles that Chelsea faced. There are also many dissonances and less conventional resolutions to build a sense of anxiety throughout the piece. In the performance, the choir will sing sections of Smith’s text and create the atmosphere while Smith performs her spoken word poem over the choir. In addition to passages from Smith’s text, An Open Letter to Suicide also features text from Proverbs 31:25, “She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future.”

An Open Letter to Suicide takes the listener through a journey of survival and ends with the phrase “I will live” to symbolize the vow Chelsea made to herself never to let suicide win.

Tickets are $10 for general admission, $8 for faculty/staff, and $6 for students and seniors. Tickets can be purchased at the Illinois State University College of Fine Arts Box Office, located in the Center for the Performing Arts, from 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or by calling (309) 438-2535. Tickets are also available through Performance parking is available for free in spots 250 and above at the School Street Parking Deck, 400 West Beaufort Street in Normal.

For more information regarding the concert, contact Cristian Larios at