Melodia’s Founder & Executive Director Jenny Clarke was one of 50 representatives from women’s choirs from the U.S. and Canada attending the first ever Women’s Choir Symposium in L.A. this June.
The impetus for the symposium came from two of the leading women’s choirs in the field that are celebrating momentous anniversaries this year. Elektra, based in Vancouver, Canada, is 30 and VOX Femina Los Angeles is 20!
The Founders and Artistic Directors of these two choirs, Elektra’s Morna Edmundson and Vox Femina’s Dr. Iris S. Levine, developed a program for the two-day convening that focused on repertoire and networking. Each choir representative was asked to bring a piece of music to share with the group. Over the course of three sessions, each representative introduced their piece, spoke briefly about their choir, and conducted the group in a reading of the music.
Jenny and Cynthia Powell, Melodia’s Artistic Director, selected the third movement from The Dancers by Grace Williams as Melodia’s piece. Melodia featured the work in the spring 2017 concert Awakening the Spirit, and Jenny and Cynthia were eager to share this extraordinary and under-performed work with the women’s choir field. Following an introduction by Jenny at the Symposium, Elektra’s Morna Edmundson conducted the group in a reading. Several conductors asked questions about the piece and how to obtain the scores.
In addition to exploring repertoire together, the Symposium featured a workshop performance by Vox Femina of a program they performed the following day at the opening concert of the Chorus America Conference. Among the works performed was a piece by Christina Whitten Thomas, a composer Melodia commissioned in 2010. Jenny was thrilled to reconnect with Christina, who is based in L.A., at the Chorus America opening night concert.
Perhaps one of the most valuable and enjoyable aspects of the symposium was the chance to connect with women’s choir leaders from near and far. On the first evening, the group appropriated a local Mexican restaurant for a delicious meal together, and on the second day a group breakfast provided a great opportunity to share thoughts and ideas on issues facing the field.
Now the question is where the second Symposium will take place. Chorus America will take place in Chicago in 2018 so perhaps that will be our destination for the next gathering of women’s choir minds.
Reading session at the Women’s Choir Symposium, 2017