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Seattle Women's Chorus delivers beautiful holiday concert
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Seattle Women's Chorus delivers beautiful holiday concert

by Marian Michener - SGN Contributing Writer

Making Spirits Bright
Seattle Women's Chorus
December 19-20
Meany Hall


We enjoyed the seventh annual Seattle Women's Chorus (SWC) concert last weekend at Meany Hall. They opened with 'Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas' and 'Christmastime,' two fresh holiday songs. We snickered happily at the Lesbian chipmunks, Caro Horsfall, Christine Burton, and Dawn Larson. It was a fun satire of one of our favorite Christmas songs.

Mozart's "Laudate Dominum" was beautiful music beautifully rendered. The chorus followed with three songs thematically tied to the rose. "Go, Lovely Rose" was sweet. The tone poem There Is No Rose shimmered. "Rosa Sat" is a new song about Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and Barack Obama. It made us want to stand up and cheer.

A setting of Emily Dickinson's poem Hope was very satisfying and paired well with the song "Thankful." Soloists Ev Merriene and Paula Olsen lent pretty voices to "The Chanukah Song (We are Lights)."

The humor of the Southwest Seattle Solstice Festival was not as amusing as we had hoped. Dar Williams' song "The Christians and the Pagans" gave us chuckles, however. Solos by Renee Thorkelson and Carol Logan were pleasing. The Sensible Shoes knocked "Did Jesus Have a Baby Sister?" out of the ballpark. In Eric Lane Barnes' "The Feminist Holiday Songbook," it was fun to recognize our own revision of sexist language.

"Welsh Noel," "Carol from an Irish Cabin," and "Heavenly Voices" warmed us. Sensible Shoes returned dressed as old women to sing a parody of "Carol of the Bells." Christmas shopping from the elders' point of view made us laugh.

Soloist Marne Herzer nailed Joni Mitchell's "River." It was fun to hear the chorus change the pronouns to "she."

One thing we have observed is that there seems to be an increasing number of straight women in the chorus. Many women love working with artistic director Dennis Coleman - he is a draw that brings new members into the chorus. Sensible Shoes sang a ditty about all the things you can buy at intermission, which referred to Lesbian and straight women singing together. The character of the chorus is changing. We heard rumors some Lesbians have left SWC because of that change. There is a niggling concern that as the makeup of the chorus evolves, the Lesbian community might fade into the background just a bit. We hope this is not the case, and the chorus of strong, dedicated women singers continues to support all members of the community.

Mary Chapin Carpenter's "Hot Buttered Rum" moved well. The pop-rock holiday section of Christmas lyrics to the songs "Oh What a Night," "Gloria," "Nights in White Satin," and "Reelin' in the Years" rocked and rolled. Solos by Nancy Haver, Sara Zeiler, and Frances Merenda sailed.

The audience was rewarded for our standing ovation by the Rat City Roller Girls singing to a Chanukah song. We wished they had appeared earlier in the concert; it would have enlivened it.

Once again, we felt too much of the music was quiet and contemplative. We would like to see Coleman choose music that lets the power and emotionality of the women's voices be felt. We have seen a church choir after they took a workshop from Pat Wright and the Total Experience Choir, and the church choir cut loose. We would like to see SWC go to that school!

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