March 24, 2010

Conductor Profile: Donna Plasket

Donna Plasket is Assistant Dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies and Director of the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies program at the University of Virginia and a consultant in arts in education. Previous positions include: research director at Harvard Project Zero, faculty member in music education at New England Conservatory of Music; Executive Director of Development and Director of the Chapel Choir at Westminster Choir College, music teacher at two New Jersey high schools, and most recently Associate Director of the Women's Center at the University of Virginia and conductor of the Virginia Women's Chorus. In addition, Dr. Plasket has served as guest conductor and as a clinician, consultant, and speaker in choral music, church music, arts education, alumni relations, institutional advancement, management, and trustee relations.

Dr. Plasket holds bachelor's and master's degrees in education and choral conducting from Westminster Choir College and a doctorate in higher education administration from Harvard University. She is a member of Phi Delta Kappa, Pi Kappa Lambda, Alpha Sigma Lambda and serves on various nonprofit and educational boards including the College Board of Piedmont Virginia Community College, Piedmont Educational Foundation, Dean's Advisory Council of Westminster Choir College (chair), Hospice of the Piedmont (chair), Ash Lawn Opera Festival Foundation (vice president), Ash Lawn Opera Guild, The Oratorio Society of Virginia, Piedmont Council of the Arts, Charlottesville Writing Center, Women Educational Leaders of Virginia.

Donna was the VWC conductor from 1995 to 2000; she is conducting Lift Thine Eyes by Mendelssohn and Laudamus Te by Vivaldi. Her thoughts on the music:

One of the aspects of the VWC I have enjoyed as a performing ensemble and a learning community is the range of repertoire the group always has explored. It gives conductors and singers an opportunity to experience new works and to focus on different areas of women's musical literature at various times. Our anniversary concert will showcase this strength of VWC.

For my part of the concert I have chosen two well known classics of treble repertoire from major works that VWC has performed throughout its history and has performed wonderfully, although these pieces may be new for some, depending upon their era. During my time as conductor I embraced both the Mendelssohn and the Vivaldi as works that exemplified particular characteristics of their respective musical periods and provided singers with opportunities to grow in different areas of their musical understanding and vocal technique. I am eager to hear the glorious combined sounds of our current and former members. See you on April 9. Donna

March 17, 2010

We want you!

. . . to help choose the Virginia Women's Chorus logo.

Please vote for your favorite logo by March 25, 2010.

Go to, scroll to bottom; enter your n

ame, check up to 3 boxes, leave a comment if you'd like, and hit SAVE.

Notes about logos:

All logos can have color added or taken away. All print well in black and white as well.

Here are the logo choices:

Logo #1-Treble clef with repeat sign

-Repeat sign indicates the second rising of the Women’s Chorus

-The smallest arc can be removed

-“Excellence” will be non-italicized

Logo #2- Circle of Treble clefs
-Treble clefs for SSAA music

-Circle represents sisterhood of all who have sung

Logo #3- traditional

Logo #4 (a, b, c, d)

Logo #5 (a, b, c, d)

Logo #6- incorporates giraffe mascot

March 14, 2010

VWC Alumna Profile: Kathie Mitchell

The excitement in B012 when 60 young women gathered for the first rehearsal of the first women’s choral group at UVA was enough to make the walls quiver, and B012 has never been the same after that January rehearsal in 1974. Jim Dearing, our founding director, was a fun and demanding conductor who chose challenging contemporary repertoire. Mountain Nights by Kodaly were eerily dissonant and we learned enough Hungarian to sing Bartok and Russian to sing Stravinsky. Back then we used our music during concerts and if we did not watch Jim, he would expel a loud “psst” and stare directly at us – for a long time. It was intense but fun and kept us on our toes so we would not be the next “psst” recipient. If we went flat, he kept moving the key up by half steps. Luckily I was an alto but my heart went out to the first sopranos!

One of the first challenges as a newly-formed chorus was to choose dresses. This took almost 2 full rehearsals and many (sometimes heated) discussions. Jim was beside himself. We ultimately decided that each member could choose the pattern of the dress but it was mandatory that the fabric be the same: gross, dark green polyester that was supposed to match the interior of the Old Cabell Hall auditorium in some odd way. Needless to say, 3 years later these dresses were donated to the Drama Department. Tours were a lot of fun, but Jim got a little ambitious on our tour to Canada and the bus ride was excruciatingly long and several people composed songs or wrote funny lyrics about our aching backs and adventures. I believe it was the Canadian tour when we stayed in the dorm rooms of a private boys’ school and most of us sneaked out and …I’ll leave those stories left untold. I remember it was the first time I had seen such an abundance of Playboy magazines. We decided going to Canada over spring break was not such a good idea and the next tour was planned for Florida. I remember performing outside, and while accompanying a piece, a gust of wind suddenly decided to redistribute all my piano music on the ground. Somehow we kept going. These are just a few memories from the actual rehearsals and performances. There were plenty of memories of times outside of Chorus, but … hmm…these are better left unspoken because, well, this was the ‘70’s when feminism was in full force, when opposition to the war in Vietnam was growing exponentially, when rock stars were dying in their 20’s, etc., etc. I confess. I was a hippie. There were parties with GC members but I can’t remember too much about them. I’ll leave it at that.

I hope you will all come and share your memories of your times with the Chorus! Or if you can't come this time, send us an email with your favorite memory and we'll put them in a book for all to enjoy.

Kathie (now KaeRenae) Mitchell

March 2, 2010

40+ Alums to attend Anniversary Weekend!

Congratulations, ladies! You have all helped make it possible to surpass the Managing Board and Board of Trustee's expectations for attendance--we now have about 45 ladies registered! Scroll down to see the full list of attendees.

If you haven't quite gotten around to registering yet, there is still time. We will be sending out packets with music and important information this week, so if you'd like to be included in that mass mailing, please register right now! If you are waiting to hear about other possible plans that would conflict with you coming down the weekend of April 9th, but are still thinking of attending, please email to let us know to keep you in mind.

We are getting so excited for the weekend, and hope you are too!

February 24, 2010

Reminder: Registration Deadline This Friday!

Hello all,

Don't forget to register for the 35th/15th Anniversary Weekend and Concert! The deadline is this Friday, February 26th 2010. The online registration site is through Alumni Hall (HoosOnline) and is secured by VeriSign.

Click here to register online.

February 12, 2010

VWC Alumna Profile: Caroline Zill

Carrie Zill graduated from UVA in 2006 with a degree in History. More importantly, while she was at UVA Carrie was in the Virginia Women's Chorus and served on the Managing Board as Publicity Chair, Concert Chair, and Fundraising Chair. Her favorite memory from being in VWC is having the chance to live in the chorus house for 3 great years! Carrie is originally from Pittsburgh, and also lived in South Carolina and Virginia before attending UVA. She currently lives in Fairfax, VA. She has two younger sisters, Becky and Jamie, who are both currently students at Virginia Commonwealth University.

After graduation, Carrie joined the Peace Corps and was assigned to teach English in Bayankhongor, Mongolia. She became interested in Asia after studying abroad in China for a summer while at UVA, and later studied Chinese. In Mongolia, Carrie spent two years teaching children English to secondary school students, learning the Mongolian language, living in a ger (a traditional Mongolian tent), traveling around Asia, and gaining a new-found appreciation for truly cold winter weather. Her favorite experiences of being in the Peace Corps were forming new friendships, living in a ger, and having the opportunity to learn about a new culture and language.

Carrie returned to the United States in the summer of 2008 with a new found calling for teaching. She is currently in graduate school at George Mason University to get a Masters degree in Education, with a focus on teaching ESOL. She is currently teaching ESOL at Fairfax High School, her high school alma mater! In her free time Carrie enjoys running, swimming, sky-diving, doing crossword puzzles, rooting for the Steelers, playing with her dogs, and going to the beach.

February 3, 2010

Conductor Profile: Libby Moore Slade

Libby Moore Slade and her son, Jacob.

Greetings, VWC friends!

It's Libby Moore Slade, your former conductor of 2000 - 2005. I'm writing to you from frozen, rural Ohio where I have been with my family since my husband Pete took a professorship starting in August of 2006. Our daughter Anna is now 5, and our son Jacob is 3. Time flies when you're sleep deprived. I'm sure some of you can relate. I feel infinitely blessed, though my current hiatus from conducting leaves me with some longings. I'm delighted to get to wave my arms around in front of you once more this coming April! I'm even more delighted that I'll be able to see such dear old friends again, hear your singing, and sing with you. Thanks so much for including me.

A word about the pieces I've chosen to conduct in the concert:
I remember Durufle's beloved Tota pulchra es from my undergrad days singing with VWC, and I shared it with the group again as director. The Latin text is from a 4th-Century Marian prayer. Durufle's quirky rhythms and haunting melodies, based on Gregorian chant, make this motet both exciting to sing and an important piece of women's choral music history. I look forward to enjoying it again with you.

Out of all of the wonderful pieces we shared, it was difficult to choose only a couple. I've always felt, and feel even more strongly today, that our music should draw us closer in community with each other and with the world. This conviction, combined with my interest in folk music traditions, led me to think back on the small collection of songs we performed some years ago from the island of Hispanola, or modern day Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Aires de Quisqueya ("Quisqueya" being another name for the island from the native Taíno language meaning "mother of the earth") will be our tribute to the people of Haiti. With these songs we will remember our sisters and brothers there, and salute their courage and the courage of those helping them to rebuild their lives. Though some of you remember performing these pieces in a Spanish/ Taíno dialect, we will draw from an English version to make the spirit of the music more immediately accessible to us.

What a blessing it will be for me to make music with you again!

With love and gratitude,