HERSTORY

The First Decade 1984 -1994

In 1984, Catherine Roma, a new doctoral student at the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music held the first MUSE auditions. Recently relocated from her native Philadelphia where she founded the Anna Crusis Women's Choir in 1975, Roma hoped to establish another women's choir in Cincinnati while she completed her graduate studies in choral conducting.

From these auditions, twenty-some women emerged who shared a vision of a women's choir, a vision of a choral community that reflected their wish for the world, a place where differences would be celebrated and where women of many colors, ages, cultures, and lifestyles would come together in harmony.

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Within six weeks of the first rehearsal, MUSE made her debut on International Women's Day, 1984. Twenty-four women performed three songs at the Cement Mixers Union Hall in the Walnut Hills area of Cincinnati. From the first, MUSE chose repertoire that reflected the lives of women and fit women's voices. MUSE commissioned choral works by women composers and crafted choral arrangements from contemporary women's movement singer-songwriters. The choir also sang many songs from the folk, peace and social justice traditions, and searched for the silenced voices of women in the world of classical music.

MUSE also addressed another overlooked audience group by appointing Ruth Rowan as signer for the hearing-impaired in 1985; Ms. Rowan's appearance continued to be standard performance practice for MUSE until she passed away July 22, 2015. She was our Interpreter Extraordinaire for over thirty years ~ helping MUSE create an inclusive experience for our hearing impaired audience, and adding immeasurable beauty to our performances. You can learn more about Ruth here.

MUSE quickly established a reputation for memorable, moving performances. Besides an annual spring concert and many local run-out concerts, MUSE began to travel. Her first travels included an appearance at the 2nd National Sister Singers Festival in 1985 in Madison, WI, a tour to Champaign-Urbana and Chicago, IL in 1986, and a very exciting performance at GALA Festival III in Seattle in July, 1989. In June 1990, MUSE traveled to Chicago, singing in Orchestra Hall with the Windy City Gay Choir. In January 1993, MUSE joined the Ohio Unity Choir for appearances at Marysville Prison and the Franklin Pre-Release Facility, and in the summer of 1993, MUSE hosted the 7th Sister Singers Festival, expanding its schedule to 4 days to include workshops with guest artists for the first time.

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Coming Into Our Voice, MUSE's first CD, was released at the end of 1992, and featured 14 selections, including works by Bernice Johnson Reagon, Holly Near and Connie Kaldor.

Performances reflected the choir's growing numbers and reputation for giving voice to unknown artists and putting some of the better known in a different light!

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MUSE Cincinnati's Women's Choir

P.O. Box 23292
Cincinnati, OH 45223
T: 513.221.1118
muse@musechoir.org

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©️2017 MUSE Cincinnati Women's Choir

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