Amanda Weber Wins 10th Mary Bussman Emerging Female Composer Contest

The Twin Cities Women’s Choir is pleased to announce Amanda Weber is the winner of the 10th Mary Bussman Emerging Female Composer Contest. Recognized by the Yale Institute of Sacred Music as a conductor "of exceptional promise and achievement," Amanda Weber is passionate about uniting music, art and community through her work as a conductor, teacher, performer, artist and social activist. TCWC will debut her original composition, Voices of Hope, at its Divas & Desserts concerts, May 4-6, 2017. In response to the Emerging Female Composer award, Amanda wrote the following: In the past year, I have had the joy of being surrounded by many strong women, both in my work at the University of Minnesota, serving as Assistant Conductor for the Women's Chorus, and at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Shakopee, where I conduct a women's prison choir called - not coincidentally - the Voices of Hope. The weekly practice of leading women in song has led me to think more critically about what it means to be women singing. From this place of vulnerability and reflection, I turned to one of my female mentors, Rev. Karen Brau, who is the senior pastor at Luther Place Memorial Church in Washington, DC. She has an incredible gift with words, and so I sent her this email to provoke some thoughts: September 8, 2016 I've been thinking a lot lately on what it means to use your body as a musical instrument. Women claiming their own strength and power to deliver messages of hope... we've risen from a past that has told us we were lesser, and we're still rising. How do we embrace our own gifts and unite them with others (with diverse others)?  And are we being called to a choral future that is about more than beauty?  Maybe choral music can also stir up and awaken and challenge. Music continues to be one of the only things that successfully brings together any kind of person to engage in a creative process that can heal the musician and the listener! From these disjunct thoughts, Pastor Karen wrote an extraordinary text. The music flowed from there, beginning with a call to gather - first by one voice, with others joining. The piano refrain which returns throughout is hopeful, comforting. Yet there are moments of sorrow and darkness, which cannot be ignored. The ending returns to the call of the opening; it is insistent that our voices be heard. This concept of our voices being heard has taken on new meaning as I make music with the prison population. The Voices of Hope at Shakopee tell an incredible story, but their voices are confined within the prison. They rely, therefore, on sisters - like the Twin Cities Women's Choir - to serve as a megaphone, projecting their message of resilience and hope. We need each other, and music can be a very powerful tool as we seek to build community and practice restorative justice.  I am humbled to be the recipient of the 2016 Mary Bussman Emerging Female Composer Contest and thrilled to work with yet another group of wonderful women. Thank you TCWC for your commitment to choral music over the past 20 years and for serving as voices of hope for many years to come. More about Amanda Weber: Weber is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Conducting at the University of Minnesota, where she studies with Kathy Saltzman Romey and Matthew Mehaffey and serves as the conductor for Campus Singers Maroon and assistant conductor to the University Women’s Chorus.  She has been active as a church musician from a very young age, most recently working as organist and choir director at Trinity Lutheran Congregation in Minneapolis, MN.  Both her work with students at the University and congregants at Trinity challenge Weber to engage in meaningful music-making with significantly multicultural populations.  In October 2015, Weber founded the Voices of Hope, a women’s prison choir at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Shakopee.  One year later, she was invited to share this story as a speaker at the TEDx Minneapolis Salon; her work has also been featured in articles by the University of Minnesota and the Big Ten Network.  Weber’s interest in using music as a tool for social justice grew through her work at Luther Place Memorial Church in Washington, DC, where she founded Bethany’s Women of Praise, a choir for homeless women.  Weber led this group from 2008-2011 and received recognition from Chorus America, the American Choral Director’s Association, Yale University, and Al Jazeera English.  Outside of school, Weber is active as a conductor, singer, and pianist.  Recent conducting highlights include performances of Bach Cantata 106, Copland’s In the Beginning, and a premiere arrangement of Henry Brant’s Flight Over a Global Map.  She has assisted in preparing works such as Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Handel’s Messiah, and Schoenberg’s Friede auf Erden.  Weber is a graduate of the Yale School of Music and Institute of Sacred Music, where she received a Master of Music Degree in Choral Conducting with Marguerite Brooks and Jeffrey Douma.  She has studied with many guest conductors including Masaaki Suzuki, Simon Carrington, Stefan Parkman, and David Hill, and has participated in conducting masterclasses in Florida, Paris, Sweden, and Switzerland.  Weber received a BA in Music and Art at Luther College.  She continues to create art in her free time, and was most recently commissioned to paint three murals in Washington, DC. More about the Mary Bussman Emerging Female Composer Contest: The annual Mary Bussman Emerging Female Composer Contest supports the Twin Cities' Women's Choir's mission to "sing, perform and affirm the voices of women." Along with other compositions commissioned through special funds, this award contributes to an ever-growing body of choral work for women’s choirs.

2015-2016 Season Passes Are On Sale

Each season pass purchased enables you to reserve one ticket to each of our three concerts this season (Illuminations, Our Fare Ladies, and Divas & Desserts) at the reduced rate of $60. Season passes allow you first pick of your preferred date for Illuminations. For Divas & Desserts, season passholders get first pick of dates, will have early access to assigned seating, and will be allowed to reserve up to two full tables (18 total tickets) per night. Purchase your season pass today! Please note that, once you complete your pass purchase by clicking "Complete Order," you will need to reserve your tickets for each of our events. Look for the "Pass Management" box on the order confirmation screen. The system will guide you through the process, but please remember to complete the order!  Season passes are on sale until November 19, 2015. Read more about this season's concerts!

2015-2016 Season Concert Series

Illuminations: Journey Into Light Saturday, November 21, 1pm & 3pm Mayflower Church, Minneapolis Saturday, December 5, 2015, 2pm, with reception to follow (ASL Interpreted) Calvary Lutheran Church, Minneapolis Tickets: Advance $18, Door $20 Kids 12 and under free Pay-what-you-can tickets are available at the door for all performances. This year’s Illuminations concert focuses on the journey from darkness to light through a very personal lens. Our musical selections highlight an internal spiritual journey, literally through the seasons, and metaphorically through struggle to peace and through sickness to health. We will present the winning entry for our Emerging Female Composer contest, chiaroscuro, which sets text taken from Tilda Swinton’s acceptance speech for the Rothko Chapel. This piece explores the darkness and light we carry within, and the balance of these opposing forces in shaping our perspective. Also on this concert is Stephen Hatfield’s arrangement of Ödi Ödi, a folk song of the Tamil people of southern Asia. The translation of this piece is, “Millions of people run and run, constantly seeking, looking for the light that is within them.” And we will end with Brian Tate’s arrangement of Gate Gate, a setting of the Buddhist Heart sutra. Gate means “gone,” gone from suffering to liberation, from forgetfulness to mindfulness, gone to the other shore.   Our Fare Ladies A musical feast in courses celebrating female composers and chefs. Saturday, February 6, 3pm Saint Paul's United Church of Christ, St PaulASL InterpretedGuest appearance by the Twin Cities Girls’ Choir Tickets: Advance $20, Door $22Kids 12 and under freePay-what-you-can tickets are available at the door. We have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to musical and culinary talent in our own backyard. In our February concert, we will highlight the wonderful contributions of female chefs in the Twin Cities, paired with music by female composers from the region. We begin the meal with the well-known favorite Food, Glorious Food, and continue through other courses with Punching the Dough (about the rigors of cooking on the open prairie), Banquet Fugue (set in true Baroque style), Mashed Potato Love Poem (which highlights the composer’s affinity for the dish!) and ending with a dessert of Bittersweet Tango. Between these humorous courses, we will have aural palate cleansers of local composers Jocelyn Hagen, Carol Barnett, Libby Larsen, Joan Griffith, Randi Rexroth, and Jeannie Brindley-Barnett. Host Shanan Custer will help us tell this tasty story, and we’ll send you home ready to eat! This dinner party will be hosted by Shanan Custer, and will also feature the women chefs and owners of The Lowbrow, Tatanka Truck, and Sassy Spoon. Also featuring ENCORE! and the Twin Cities Girls' Choir.   Divas & Desserts Gala Fundraiser: Movie Music Featuring silent and live auctions. Friday, May 6, doors for silent auction at 6:30, concert at 7:30 Saturday, May 7, doors for silent auction at 6:30, concert at 7:30 (ASL Interpreted) St. Mary's Lake Calhoun Event Center, Minneapolis Tickets: Advance $25, Door $30 Do you have a favorite song from a movie? Come to Divas & Desserts to see if it's one of our favorites too! The repertoire for this year’s gala is chosen 100% from music made famous in movie soundtracks. Tickets are currently on sale. If you require accommodations for ASL interpretation or for wheelchair and companion seating, call us at 612-333-8292. For all other ticket orders, order online or call Brown Paper Tickets at 1-800-838-3006.

Sarah Grace Graves Wins 2015 Mary Bussman Emerging Female Composer Composition Competition

The Twin Cities Women’s Choir is pleased to announce the winner of the 2015 Mary Bussman Emerging Female Composer competition. Sarah Grace Graves, who began her formal composition studies at Rice University in 2014, is already making a name for herself in the music world. TCWC will debut her original composition, chiaroscuro, at its first major concert of the 2015-2016 season: the annual “Illuminations” celebration. Sarah Grace, who grew up in a military family and now lives in Texas, describes herself as a singer who draws inspiration for her compositions from the unique versatility and beauty of the human voice. Her choral work to date includes Though I Walk through the Valley (2012), silent night (2015), and chiaroscuro (2015). Earlier this year, the Houston Grand Opera’s community outreach division, HGOco, commissioned Sarah Grace to write Change Came into Our Houses, a piece that set to music personal quotes from civil rights activist Unita Blackwell. The piece premiered in Houston April 2015. She does not, however compose exclusively for vocal groups. In 2014 Sarah Grace published To God and to the Lamb, a string duet. As a vocalist, she studies with Karol Bennett and sings in the Christ Church Cathedral Choir in Houston. In response to the Emerging Female Composer award, Sarah Grace wrote the following: I am deeply honored to be chosen as this year’s Mary Bussman Composition Contest winner…. My piece, chiaroscuro … relates to the darkness and light in art and in ourselves. The power of art—including music—to speak, heal, and inspire, is in its inclination to force us to reconcile the poles of our being. The title… refers to the technique of painting in which darkness and light are placed side by side in dramatic contrast… to give three-dimensional… wholeness to a two-dimensional subject. When we humans affirm our inner darkness and light, we too become whole. I would like to thank…the Twin Cities Women’s Choir for bringing my song to life. I eagerly look forward to the premiere. The annual Mary Bussman Emerging Female Composer competition supports the choir's mission to "sing, perform and affirm the voices of women." Along with other compositions commissioned through special funds, this award contributes to an ever-growing body of choral work for women’s choirs. Photo credit: Eric Snoza, SnoStudios Photography

ENCORE! Performing in Guthrie Production of The Events, October 1 & 2

ENCORE!, the small a cappella ensemble of the Twin Cities Women’s Choir, is one of the local choirs to perform in a production of The Events at the Guthrie Theater, on October 1 and 2. The Events, by Scottish dramatist David Greig, was written as a response to the shooting attack on a youth camp in Norway in 2011 that took 77 lives. It seeks to explore how the community searches for compassion, forgiveness, peace and understanding in the wake of an unspeakable act. The play sets the anguish and pain of a survivor of a mass shooting against the consoling presence of a choir. A different community choir sings at each performance. ENCORE! is singing in the final preview and on opening night. In addition to singing throughout the 90-minute play, ENCORE! will present one of its own arrangements before the show begins. Tickets can be purchased through The Guthrie's website. Mention "CHOIRS" at the box office and get 50% off your ticket. Press for The Events From the St Paul Pioneer Press: "The congregation will be played during the Guthrie run by several different choirs -- on opening night, it was an ensemble of 20 or so from the Twin Cities Women's Choir -- who sing half a dozen songs and play supporting roles in the proceedings…. About that choir, though. They're lovely and the women dive gamely into their roles as foils for the two leads.… [T]hroughout the show, the choir on stage functions as a tangible reminder that, although human beings are capable of violent and inexplicable behavior, we can also come together to create beauty and peace." From Classical MPR: "The presence of these members of our community (at the Friday night performance I saw, the participants were the Encore ensemble of the Twin Cities Women's Choir) on stage is a constant reminder that the victims of these atrocities are ordinary, unsuspecting people. They could be any of us, or our loved ones. The music, composed by John Browne and overseen by musical director Joe Bunker, ranges widely—as the repertoire of any community choir might—from hymns to a jaunty Norwegian coffee song. The singing serves as both source music (that is, music that's part of the story) and score, providing an emotional undercurrent to playwright Greig's kaleidoscopic look at an act of unspeakable violence." From the Minneapolis Star Tribune: "We are met on a bare stage set with risers, a table with coffee and teapots and cups, a piano. The choir greets us with a smiling rendition of the song 'There’ll Be a Change in Me.'" (That was ENCORE!) Further: "The choir periodically participates with the actors, reading lines from their scripts — a guileless community theater convention that breaks down the wall between stage and audience, and feels very downtown hip. It’s a lovely, earnest combination." From the City Pages: "During its run, the play will be filled with a rotating cast of guest choirs, which do more than act as a Greek chorus, commenting on the action. On opening night, it was Encore, a small ensemble of the Twin Cities Women's Choir, providing a pure emotional uplift amid the spiritual horrors." From Joe Bunker of The Actors Touring Company, Musical Director of The Events: "We’ve had all-female groups, all-male groups, church groups, university groups, theatre groups and pop-up choirs, singing everything from gospel to Carole King, from barbershop to Bach. One of my favourite musical moments of this trip was when Aerosmith’s ‘Walk This Way’ burst unexpectedly from the middle of a 1930s close harmony number." ENCORE! can be heard in The Guthrie's video promoting the remainder of the run of The Events.