an inclusive and feminist choral community advocating for peace and social justice
MUSE eNewsletter
Spring 2016
In This Issue

Treat Yourself to a MUSE CD
Advertise with MUSE

Phenomenally Woven
Looking ahead with anticipation and gratitude

Hello Dear Friends,
MUSE, Cincinnati's Women's Choir is busier than ever!  We just successfully completed a wonderful collaboration with MYCincinnati under the direction of Eddy Kwon and Nate May, a CCM composition major, on the premier of his work STATE.  This collaboration held in our new home, Community Matters, was a wonderful way to meet our neighbors and celebrate diversity within the community. We have only a 5 week turnaround and we will be back on stage at Walnut Hills High School's auditorium on June 4th and 5th! 
Phenomenally Woven is MUSE, Cincinnati's Women's Choir's 33rd Annual Spring Concert. This concert features four newly commissioned works! One of which is based on Maya Angelou's poem, Phenomenal Woman.  Rosephanye Powell skillfully put this poem to music with a sassy flair as only Rosephanye can.  It's rhythmic, animated and full of zest.  The other three commissioned songs are: There is a Place, also by Rosephanye Powell; Power Lines, the first GALA Chorus Cathy Roma Commission, based on Denise Levertov's poem Beginners, set to music by Kala Pierson and When I Was A Boy written by Evyn Surrency, a personal reflection of gender identity.
Other songs featured highlight phenomenal women and how women are woven together in history and in making our world a better place. Somos Tejedoras, is a Spanish song which translates: "Weaving together, woven together, circled by the golden threads we dance, move by the rhythms we harvest from our souls, we are the women who glow brilliant, dancing as we weave."  Take Heart, by Ysaye M. Barnwell brings the subject of women, their struggles and history on an international level to the forefront.  "Listen to the women of Bhopal, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Madres, Asia, Middle East and Eastern Europe." We all have important stories and so many highlight the fact that our work is not done. We have a long way to go before we have an equal and just world.
In addition, we will be singing many beloved songs that celebrate women, our mothers, our grandmothers and Mother Earth! 
You won't want to miss this concert!  If you are alumni, please join us on stage in singing On Children.  The concerts will be held at Walnut Hills High School Auditorium, 3250 Victory Parkway, on Saturday evening at 7:00 p.m., June 4th and Sunday afternoon at 3:00 p.m., June 5th.  I look forward to seeing you there!

"There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty."
 Hussein Nishah 
Remembering Ruth
A Season of Joy and Pain
MUSE has devoted a moment in every concert this season to hold Ruth Rowan, member, singer and ASL interpreter of 30 years, in our hearts and minds.  

Thank you to all who have donated to the Ruth Rowan fund which has helped to ensure our concerts and community performances are accessible for all in keeping with her commitment to inclusion.  The total amount donated to date is $1015 and the fund will remain open indefinitely.

We appreciate Tammy, Ruth and Marsha's daughter, interpreting at our fall concert for the song "Testimony" and hope to see Tammy at future performances.  We are grateful to Stephanie Dreyer for her expertise and commitment to keeping Ruth's memory alive at our performances. Stephanie wears a gift of MUSE Blue she received from Ruth at every performance.  Look for it in June.  

Our Alto I member, Mary Cyphers designed a T -shirt which will be on sale in the MUSE Marketplace at the June concert,
Phenomenally Woven.  See pictures below.  The proceeds from these sales support MUSE' ongoing mission of inclusion.

Honor or Remember a Phenomenal Woman!
Accepting submissions of Phenomenal Women who have inspired you...
MUSE will be acknowledging many phenomenal women in the coming weeks via Facebook and email as we celebrate the women who forged hard-won victories and inspired our journeys:  Christiane Amanpour, Aung San Suu Kyi, Pat Head Summitt and Ruth Bader Ginsburg among many others.  Follow us on Facebook to be a part of the conversation. 
Honor or remember the Phenomenal Woman in your life as a part of MUSE' 33rd Annual Spring Concert, Phenomenally Woven.  MUSE will feature a slideshow of names and photos of Phenomenal Women submitted by our fans, patrons and donors.  Your tax-deductible donation of $25 or more to MUSE will assure your phenomenal women are included!  

Email names and high-resolution pictures of your Phenomenal Women to .  Deadline for submissions is May 31.  
Questions?  Contact us - 513-221-1118 or  

Member Spotlight

Sarah Hawkins, Soprano II

I interviewed Sarah by Skype while she was taking a break from studying for exams. Sarah is a freelance writer and video producer. She's currently studying in the certificate program "Spanish for Social Services & Healthcare" at UC. She also has a website: click here

How long have you lived in Cincinnati?                                                               

I've lived here pretty much my entire life. I grew up in Forest Park and lived in Athens, Ohio for four years while I attended Ohio University. I also lived in Los Angeles for eight months.

When did you first learn about MUSE?

About twenty years ago, I went to a MUSE concert at a church in North College Hill. I loved it and was really attracted to the diversity of the choir, that it's LGBTQ-friendly, and has strong social activist component, but I was too nervous to audition. Recently, however, I was singing with the YPCC (Young Professionals Choral Collective) and had the opportunity to sing in the Bluegrass Mass under the direction of our MUSE artistic director, Rhonda Juliano. I think she might have encouraged me to take a look at the website and schedule an audition. At my audition, I sang Joni Mitchell's "Free Man in Paris" - at least that was the plan. It's a really hard song to sing! Fortunately, there were other aspects to the audition, like site-reading which I really rocked! (Sarah's being modest - I'm sure she did great! J)

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I am finally living the life I always wanted to live, and not the life others wanted me to live. I'm very proud that I am able to take care of my dad, who lives with me and my husband. Also, I'm proud that I finally auditioned for MUSE because I am basically an introvert.

What is one thing on your bucket list that you would like to share?

I don't really have a "bucket list" but I have a "life list." I'd like to finish a screenplay - I'm a writer and I'm currently working on a screenplay. It's a coming of age story about a young black woman growing up in a town like Cincinnati, who has to decide whether to protest the death of her cousin at the hands of police, or follow the path her father has set for her. I'd also like to become fluent in Spanish. And finally, I'd like to climb a mountain with my husband.

What music has influenced you the most?

I like lots of different kinds of music. Currently I'm listening to a lot of indie, but typically my playlist includes R&B, soul, & funk. Of course, I love our MUSE repertoire!

Why do you matter?

I believe that I have been a helpful influence and sounding board to a young woman I met at the Lindner Center of HOPE. She needed a friend and someone to talk to, and not realizing that specifically, I happened to call her a couple of weeks ago to see how she was doing. Kind of just checking in, and during the course of our conversation, I realized that she and I had a connection and that I sort of called her at the right time. It made me feel like I mattered to that young girl.

What brings you joy?

Singing. Always. Even in my darkest times, singing brings me joy.

I wasn't going to ask this question, because it's an "Angie" question, but Sarah had an answer so ---
If you were a piece of fruit, what would you be?

A kiwi. "Kiwi" was my nickname in college. I had to list a nickname during a freshman orientation activity, but didn't have one so picked my favorite fruit. Which I realize now is odd. Anyway, it didn't stick, and my Mom thought I didn't like my name, so I let my short-lived nickname go 

Natalie Wolf, Soprano II

Amy Elfner, Alto I

Ten years ago, Amy Martin Elfner found herself in a dilemma. An active member of MUSE with two small children and a demanding job as a speech therapist, she was feeling overwhelmed and was finding it difficult to keep up with her life. Something had to go, and it was with a lot of sorrow that she chose to drop out of the choir.

She remained a big fan, however, and went to many concerts over the years. "Every time I would go to a concert, sitting in the audience, I wanted to be part of the sound," she said. The turning point was last Spring, when she sat in the audience at St. Francis Seraph as the choir sang "Past Life Melodies" an aboriginal tone poem. "That was so beautiful," she said, "I just closed my eyes and let the sound wash over me."

Amy had also been thinking a lot about needing to look beyond the routine of everyday life and to engage with a broader sphere of people. "It's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget that there are bigger problems out in the world. MUSE helps me to experience life in a larger way and contribute to the community."

So in August, she auditioned once again and the choir welcomed her back with open arms. Obviously some things have changed in the ten years since she's been gone, but a lot has remained the same. She loves that MUSE is so accepting of people at all levels of musical experience. "I'm surrounded by amazing musicians, and yet, if I sing a note wrong, no one will give me an evil look."

She feels that coming back last fall for the Valleys, Rivers, and Mountains concert, featuring Appalacian music, was the perfect way to re-enter the choir community. "I really connected with the Appalacian music. I feel I could connect with it and sing it well."

We are very happy to welcome Amy back into MUSE, and we hope that she is able to remain a member for many years to come!

Susan Devlin, Alto I
Meet Evyn Surrency
New Principle Accompanist
I am delighted and excited to introduce to you Evyn Surrency our new accompanist for MUSE, Cincinnati's Women's Choir.   Evyn recently relocated to Cincinnati from St. Petersburg, Florida where he was the Principle Accompanist for Crescendo: The Tampa Bay Women's Chorus, Una Voce: The Florida Men's Chorale and the Music director of the UV Rays (small ensemble of Una Voce)
I have had the privilege of working with Evyn in Seattle for several years as an accompanist, composer and arranger.  He is gifted and a joy to work with. 
MUSE is looking forward to our first concert with Evyn as our accompanist on June 4th and 5th.  Please give him a warm welcome when you see him.

Joyfully, Rhonda Juliano

Louise Taft-Semple Foundation