Second Tier: A Study of the History and Perceptions of the Female-Only Choral Ensemble...

November 12, 2012 / By: Angela Mitchell

The purpose of this project was to study the history of female-only vocal ensembles in order to understand how attitudes and perceptions toward women's choirs may affect their status in the profession. Although women far outnumber men in choral participation in school, university, and community choirs, women's choirs are commonly perceived as less prestigious ensembles and are underrepresented on convention stages and in the professional singing community.

To change these perceptions, women's choir conductors should select repertoire that highlights the dramatic textures and tembres possible with women's voices. In addition, repertoire should contain well-written texts that connect with singers on a personal, emotional and intellectual level.

No contemporary female composer in the United States has written more music for women's choirs than Joan Szymko. This paper surveys these 72 pieces and explores three titles in depth: Nada Te Turbe, Come Pretty Love, and Hodie. Analyses for these pieces include pertinent aspects of text, texture, form, and rhythmic interest. Each analysis also includes pedagogical challenges and suggestions for teaching. These three compositions are examples of challenging and creative repertoire that will help to further the role of women's choirs as equal contributors to today's choral-music community.