Anna Crusis Women's Choir, Artistic Director
Anna Crusis Women’s Choir strives for musical excellence, singing to celebrate women and their lives, while promoting equality and opportunity for all. In her 37 year history, Anna has sought to act as an agent of social change by empowering, challenging and uplifting audiences with music that inspires and transforms. As a premier performing group in the Philadelphia area, Anna Crusis is committed to reaching diverse audiences, including those who have limited access to the arts. Anna supports other organizations working for social justice by singing at benefits and fundraisers throughout the year.
Anna Crusis was founded in 1975 by Dr. Catherine Roma. Cathy’s influence on what was to become the first feminist choir in the country was profound. Her passion for the music, her commitment to the peace and social justice movement, her drive to unearth unknown works by women composers, her desire to pull together women from all walks of life into this new musical family, became the model for women’s choirs all across the country.
Anna Crusis continues to promote those ideals that Cathy held so dear. Special focus is placed on music by, for and about women and their lives. The choir values diversity and inclusion in its membership, its audiences and its repertoire. While honoring their common ground, choir members work to respect and learn from each other, from their differences in sexual orientation, racial and cultural heritage, age, class and spiritual expression.
Church Choir Director
I have the pleasure of working with two congregations, directing their choirs and helping to facilitate their music programs. For the past three years I have served as the Music Director for the Greenville Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in South Carolina. It has given me the opportunity to lead a small group of dedicated singers, all of whom have varying degrees of musical proficiency, but who all share a common love of singing. While our main goal has been to enhance the worship experience through music, I present pieces to the choir that are thematically appropriate as well as exciting, challenging and fun.
This is a group that historically has sung a traditional choral repertoire. Over the years the congregation has grown to believe that their place has been to listen and not to participate. My challenge has been to find a way to engage the congregation, to help them feel comfortable as singers, to expand the choir's and the congregation's repertoire, to captivate the young people and bring new life to the music program. So to supplement their foundation I have bought in music that may be less familiar to them in this context: folk, pop, spirituals, music from the GLBT repertoire as well as other contemporary literature. When arrangements for a particular song are not available, I go ahead and write one.
My personal challenge this fall has been to find a way to create a meaningful experience for my choir and the congregation with me living so far away. I am 'in house' with them one Sunday a month. We have one-day choral retreats every 2 months where new material in introduced. During the interim time, the internet is our best friend. I send them music in PDF form and MP3 files of their parts as well the entire song so they can practice on their own. For our children's program, I am fortunate to have a very experienced helper who drills the kids when I am not there, and their parts are online on the Fellowship's website for parents and teachers to use at home and in class.
The congregation at large contains talented musicians who often step up to play and participate, sometimes in unusual ways. I have put together and led fluglehorn and cornet duets, small combos with bass, drums, solosits and choir, and an Olde English Renaissance ensemble for a Solstice celebration. Quite a mixed bag and fun for all involved.
I also currently serve as the choir director for the Unitarian Fellowship of West Chester, Pennsylvania. The choir sings every third Sunday, with regular weekly rehearsals. A much larger group with a plethora of tenors (!) they represent a congregation of folks who absolutely adore singing and all things musical. There are many music professionals and extremely talented hobbyists who contribute their gifts on a regular basis. There are regular coffeehouses, a concert series, a monthly folk music sing and an inter-generational choir. I am very excited to be working with another great congregation.
SUUSI 2011 'Pick-Up' Choir
Musical Theater Director
This past winter I acted as Music Director for the Spartanburg Repertory Company's production of "Lying to the Sea Gypsy," a forty-five minute pop operetta for young people by http: The cast included students from Converse College's Petrie School of Music, as well as young actors and singers from the commmunity. My job was to warm-up and rehearse the singers, teach them their music, coach them in their performances and to serve as rehearsal and performance accompanist. I facilitated the notating and editing of the score and provided the singers with practice files and CDs. Besides my performance duties, I also helped create the backing tracks for this performance using several software programs including Finale and Reason.