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  • Vox Femina Los Angeles Presents
    No Ordinary Women
    A Choral Concert
    Featuring the Music of Joan Szymko and Gwyneth Walker

    At Zipper Concert Hall
    In the Colburn School of Music in Los Angeles

    Saturday, November 3, 2012

    LOS ANGELES, CA – September 12, 2012 – Vox Femina Los Angeles, the eclectic women’s choral ensemble, opens its 16th season with No Ordinary Women, a concert featuring the music of Joan Szymko and Gwyneth Walker on Saturday, November 3, 2012 at the Zipper Concert Hall in the Colburn School of Music.  Vox Femina is thrilled to open its new season with works from these two extraordinary women composers, who have had a significant influence on the group.  The award-winning Mira Costa High School Advanced Women’s Chorale, an ensemble known for its mature tone, artistry and repertoire directed by Michael Hayden, will also be featured in a brief set. The performance starts at 8:00pm. Tickets are $25-30 during presale, $35 at the door. Group rates and student discounts are also available.  Zipper Concert Hall at The Colburn School is located at 200 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Public parking is available at lots adjacent to the school and limited street parking is also available within the area.  For tickets and additional information, please see www.voxfeminala.org.

    “Gwyneth and Joan are fantastic, significant, and we’ve had an amazing relationship with both of them for many years,” says Dr. Iris S. Levine, Vox Femina’s Artistic Director, “And, as for Mira Costa, I have been watching this young women’s choir truly grow into something extraordinary … they really are ‘no ordinary women’ and this was the perfect opportunity to feature them in a guest performance.”

    No Ordinary Women
    On November 3rd, Vox Femina, one of the most celebrated choral ensembles in Los Angeles, who are No Ordinary Women, will bring to you the music of two extraordinary women during this concert – Joan Szymko and Gwyneth Walker.  The voices of Vox will blend in wonderful harmony, singing about topics that affect the lives of women everyday.  From text attributed to Saint Patrick, Langston Hughes, and Gertrude Stein, with yet another song in Mandika, a West African language, to an arrangement of an 1800s Quaker hymn, the women of Vox will join their voices to celebrate the remarkable lives of No Ordinary Women.  In addition to performing a brief set, the Mira Costa High School Advanced Women’s Chorale will also join Vox Femina in the final number, “I Thank You God,” by Walker.

    Additional Vox Femina Performances –


    • Sunday, March 10, 2013, 3:00pm – Half the Sky – Voices of women worldwide.  Church of the Blessed Sacrament, 6657 West Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood, CA 90028

    • Saturday, March 16th [8:00pm] & Sunday, March 17th [3:00pm] – Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles – Vox will join the fabulous men of GMCLA for two concerts.  First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, 540 South Commonwealth, Los Angeles, CA 90020

    • Saturday, June 15, 2013, 8:00pm  – It’s Our Party – A sweet/sassy 16 party.  Zipper Concert Hall, The Colburn School, 200 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012

    Joan Szymko –

    Joan Szymko is an American choral conductor, music educator and composer.  Lyricism, rhythmic integrity and vigorous attention to text are hallmarks of Szymko’s diverse and distinctive choral writing. Her music is sung by distinguished choral ensembles across North America and abroad, with performances at international choral festivals and competitions (including the International Federation for Choral Music World Symposium, Kyoto/Japan), at state and regional conferences, and at four consecutive National Conferences of the American Choral Directors Association. The ACDA has recognized Szymko’s contribution to choral arts in America by selecting her as the recipient of the 2010 Raymond W. Brock Memorial Commission.  Her “All Works of Love” was premiered at the seven regional conferences of the ACDA in the spring of 2010.  She was born in Chicago and studied choral conducting and music education at the University of Illinois at Urbana.  Szymko has a long relationship with Vox – she contributed to the group’s Tolerance Project in collaboration with Culver City High School students years ago.

    Gwyneth Walker –

    Gwyneth Walker is an American composer and former faculty member of the Oberlin College Conservatory.  Her catalog includes over 200 commissioned works for orchestra, band, chorus and chamber ensembles.  She has been the recipient of many awards including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Vermont Arts Council in 2000.  In recent years, Walker has traveled across the United States working with a variety of musicians as they recorded her works.  As a result of these collaborations, several new CDs have been released: A Vision of Hills (piano trios and string works, performed by Trio Tulsa), An Hour to Dance (music for chorus recorded by the choirs at Whitman College), Now Let Us Sing! (with Bella Voce Women’s Chorus, Burlington, Vermont), The Sun Is Love (solo voice and piano works performed by Chicago artists Michelle Areyzaga and Jamie Shaak), and Scattering Dark and Bright (song cycles recorded by the Walker-Eklof Duo).  In 2012, she was elected as a Fellow of the Vermont Academy of Arts and Sciences.  She is a graduate of Brown University and the Hartt School of Music.  She holds B.A., M.M. and D.M.A. Degrees in Music Composition.  Walker has a long history with Vox – she was the very first Vox commission, ever.

    Mira Costa High School Advanced Women’s Chorale –

    The Mira Costa High School Advanced Women’s Chorale is turning five this year. One of four curricular choirs at the Manhattan Beach high school, the Chorale is a highly-auditioned, 32-voice ensemble made of freshmen through seniors.  In its short history, the ensemble has quickly become one of the exceptional high school women’s choirs in California.  Participating regularly in Southern California Vocal Association Festivals, the Chorale has never received less than a high superior rating. Additionally, the choir regularly competes in the Southern California Women’s Golden State Competition, taking second place honors for the past two years and placing in the top five every year that the group has competed.  The choir has toured Central California and, last year, members of the ensemble, along with members of other Mira Costa choirs, performed at the WorldStrides National Choral Festival in New York City’s Carnegie Hall.  The ensemble is known for its mature tone, artistry and repertoire selection.

    Michael Hayden –

    Michael Hayden has been teaching and conducting choral music since 1979.  He began teaching high school in Central Indiana and then moved on to serve on two university faculties in Indiana: Indiana Purdue University Fort Wayne and Butler University, his undergraduate Alma Mater.  Hayden received his Master of  Music degree in Choral Conducting from The Eastman School of Music, where he studied with Donald Neuen.  Additionally, he has completed all coursework, recitals and examinations for his Doctoral of Musical Arts Degree in Choral Conducting from Michigan State University and is ABD.  Hayden came to Mira Costa High School in 2007 and, over the last five years, has created a premier high school choral department.  His choirs have sung in numerous Southern California Vocal Association Festivals, consistently receiving high superior ratings.  Additionally, Hayden’s choirs have appeared in numerous regional, national and international festivals including the ACDA Western Division Conference in Reno and the WorldStrides National Choral Festival in New York City’s Carnegie Hall, both this past spring.  One of his choirs was the featured choir of the Carnegie Hall festival.  Most recently, Hayden was selected to sit on the National Advisory Board of Foundation for Small Voices, which is sponsoring Music Changes the World, a new initiative to raise a minimum of $500,000 toward providing music for youth on all continents.

    Vox Femina Background –


    Vox Femina Los Angeles is a women’s choral ensemble dedicated to the performance of quality choral literature from a world perspective with an emphasis on music by women composers.  The chorus was founded in 1997 by Artistic Director Dr. Iris S. Levine.  The 21 founding members of Vox Femina first appeared on stage as guest artists with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles in April 1997.  Since that time, Vox has quickly established itself as one of the premier women’s choruses in the United States with a demonstrated ability to perform highly eclectic repertoire, some of which can be heard on several recordings.  It actively fulfills its mission through an aggressive schedule of performances, touring and educational outreach.  Vox has demonstrated its support and encouragement of living composers through commissioning new works.  Auditions are held every August.

    Dr. Iris S. Levine, Vox Femina Artistic Director –
    Nationally recognized for her excellence in choral conducting, Dr. Iris S. Levine is the founder and artistic director of Vox Femina Los Angeles, the city’s premier women’s chorus.  Through her extensive experience with women’s choral literature and innovative concert programming, Dr. Levine has charted Vox Femina’s 16-year journey, building its prominence in the choral community by way of numerous appearances at ACDA (American Choral Directors Association) conventions, and over 100 appearances throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada.  

Dr. Levine earned her Doctorate in Choral Music from the University of Southern California under the tutelage of Rod Eichenberger and James Vail and she holds a Master’s degree in Choral Conducting from Temple University in Philadelphia, where she studied with Alan Harler.  Dr. Levine is Department Chair and Professor of Music at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona.  She is also the Artistic Director for the Master Chorus at Stephen S. Wise Temple, where her choral arrangements are often performed.  Dr. Levine is also National Chair of the ACDA Repertoire and Standards Committee for Women’s Choirs and is highly sought as guest clinician and adjudicator for choral festivals throughout the country.

    The Colburn School/Zipper Hall –

    The Colburn School’s mission is to provide the highest quality performing arts education in an optimal learning environment.  Founded in 1950, The Colburn School was established as a small preparatory school in connection with the University of Southern California’s School of Music.  The School became an independent, nonprofit institution in 1980 through the generous support of its benefactor, Richard D. Colburn.  In 1998, The Colburn School moved to its current location on South Grand Avenue.  One of LA’s most popular performance halls, the intimate 435-seat Zipper Hall at The Colburn School is home to many arts groups from the greater Los Angeles area, including the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Camerata Pacifica, Southwest Chamber Music, Monday Evening Concerts, Lark Musical Society, and Piano Spheres.  For more information, please call 213-621-4514 or visit http://www.colburnschool.edu.

    Vox Femina –

    Vox Femina Los Angeles gives women voice through the performance of quality choral literature.  Diverse in culture, age, race, belief, and sexual identity, Vox is a chorus committed to commissioning new works and raising awareness about issues that affect the family of women.  Through music, the chorus aims to create a world that affirms the worth and dignity of every person.

    “As a composer and conductor, my intention is to engage singers and audience member with choral experiences that surprise, delight, challenge and transform.” -Joan Szymko

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    For more information, images, and interviews, please contact Green Galactic’s Lynn Tejada at 213-840-1201 or lynn@greengalactic.com.

    Vox Femina Los Angeles (photo credit: Paul Kawabori – kawaboriphotography.com)

    Posted on September 17th, 2012 lynn-hasty No comments

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