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Press Herald column highlights USM singers within extraordinary young women's chorus

Portland Press Herald photo

Two USM students — senior Nyawal Lia and graduate student Ekhlas Ahmed — were featured in a Portland Press Herald column about a young women’s chorus, its peaceful mission and its prestigious performances.

The group, Pihcintu, consists mostly of refugee immigrants now living in Maine.

“In a world beset by vitriol and violence that many of them have experienced firsthand, they sing not of war, but of peace, not of enmity, but of love, not of what divides us, but of the common ground we all share,” wrote columnist Bill Nemitz.

The young women have performed throughout Maine, from smaller venues, to Merrill Hall with the Portland Symphony, and for much bigger audiences, including for NBC’s “Today” show and the United Nations’ World Refugee Day.

Pihcintu’s itinerary over the Independence Day holiday included three performances: an appearance on the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, a concert in Baltimore and the grand finale on the main stage of the Kennedy Center’s majestic concert hall.

“A lot of the songs we sing represent emotion, represent the stories where we come from, the pain that we suffered,” Ahmed told Nemitz. “So, for me, the second I start singing, my head right away goes back home and to missing all of my friends, to the memories. And then we come back and sing a different song and I remember all the peace and beauty that we live in here in Portland, Maine.”

Read the full story in the Portland Press Herald. The accompanying photo was taken by Derek Davis of the Portland Press Herald.

Nyawal Lia was also featured in a story about Pihcintu that appeared last year in the Portland Phoenix.