News Column

Concert to celebrate music by and for women

May 8, 2013


May 08--Music composed by women is too often left silent on the written page, an effort local choral musicians hope to fix this weekend by giving voice to some truly beautiful sounds.

The Friday concert "Celebrating Women" will feature voices from the Yuma Chorale and Arizona Western College's Chamber Singers and Youth Choir.

"There is music out there that is well written by women composers that is too often overlooked because we have so many male composers," said Deltrina Grimes, a professor of music at AWC. "We know about Mozart and Handel, but how many people know that Fanny Mendelssohn also wrote music. I want to give due time to this music."

In addition to music by female composers, songs presented that evening will include lyrics written by women and music inspired by women.

"A concert like this was just something I had wanted to do and didn't realize at first that we had set the date on Mother's Day weekend. I think this works out quite nicely!"

"Celebrating Women" is set for 7 p.m. Friday at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 1550 S. 14th Ave. in Yuma. Admission is free.

"It will be a very memorable evening of music," said Grimes. "For some people, it will be a walk down memory lane, while for others it will be music they have never heard before.

"We will definitely be having fun that night, which is our goal as singers. We have to be able to entertain, while enjoying what we do. We just hope we can draw the audience in, to take this journey with us."

The AWC Youth Choir is directed by Shirley Ehler, another professor of music at AWC. Most of its singers range in age from elementary school to young college students. The choir has made quite a name for itself in recent years, thanks to a pair of trips to Europe for performances in cities such as Paris, Amsterdam and Rome.

The Yuma Chorale will present some all-American goodies such as "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" and "Sweet Betsy from Pike."

"These are what I call feel-good pieces," Ehler said. "They'll also be perform 'Nellie Bly,' which was one of the first pieces I sang in college. It brought back lots of good memories, and the singers are having fun with that one."

The Yuma Chorale currently boasts 25-30 singers but welcomes many more into its music fold during the winter months. Those members range from college students to retired folks.

"It's just a big mix of people," Grimes said. "I think the draw is an opportunity to share in a bigger group and sing music they enjoy singing. There's just nothing like making music. It makes you feel good!"

Unlike the chorale, people must audition to perform with the AWC Chamber Singers. Twelve performers currently make up that group, but Grimes says she'd like to see that number grow in the fall.

"This group performs music that is a bit more challenging, so it's helpful if you read music. We tend to do things that have foreign language, madrigals, a lot of a cappella music, all which really suits this group well."

The AWC Chamber Singers plan to share "Matona Mia Cara," a madrigal a cappella piece by Orlando Di Lasso.

"It's about a maiden who someone is trying to woo. He tries and tries, but there is a language barrier," Grimes said, chuckling. "She finally understands what he wants by the end of the piece."


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