Students Lift Voices with NE Philharmonic

February 27, 2014

Students singing in the choir

On Saturday, March 1st, The Simmons College and MIT Concert Choirs will accompany the New England Philharmonic, in celebration of the bicentennial of the Star Spangled Banner.

This exciting concert, held at the Tsai Performance Center, will premiere Michael Gandolfi's Chesapeake: Summer of 1814, which documents the events leading up to the creation of the Star Spangled Banner. Make sure you purchase tickets to the event!

We had the opportunity to ask the Music Director of the Simmons College Concert Choir, Danica Buckley, a few questions:

What does it mean for the Simmons Concert Choir to participate in this event?

Every other year, the Choir performs with the New England Philharmonic. This affords the students the opportunity to sing a larger work with orchestral accompaniment. As we are not a large choir, we always collaborate with another choir. In the last few years, we have joined with the women of Chorus Pro Musica, the Boston Conservatory Women's Chorale, and the Wellesley College Choir. For those concerts, we sang pieces for women's voices only. There is not a great deal of repertoire for women's voices and orchestra, though we have sung a range, from Debussy to Mendelssohn, to contemporary works by Massachusetts composers Ron Perera and Peter Child. This year, we are singing a work for four part, SATB choir, and joining us is the MIT Concert Choir. I am especially pleased, because long before there was the Tanglewood Festival Chorus for the BSO, Simmons women and MIT men joined (often 200 of them!) as the BSO's "go to" chorus. In those days, there were over a hundred in what was known as the Simmons Glee Club. Also, I earned my Masters degree in conducting under Bill Cutter at Boston Conservatory. He is also the Director of Choral Activities at MIT, so I am pleased to work with my friend and mentor. The choruses rehearsed last Sunday night for the first time, and they sound great!

Why should students join the Choir?

Like Gwen Ifill, Rehema Ellis, and Joyce Kulhawik before them, being in the Simmons Concert Choir helps young women find their Simmons voice, in more ways than one! A few years ago at Commencement, when Gwen Ifill was speaking, I brought the choir over to her and asked her to sing a Simmons song with us. She remembered it, 30 or so years later, and she sang beautifully with us. Simmons choir creates lasting musical memories and friendships, and students learn a lot of great music along the way. I am delighted to be the director and am on my eighth year with the group. We are interested in growing the group - 50 would be ideal, and we also invite any woman from the staff or faculty to join, as well as graduate students. We currently have one staff member, and in my first year, pre-children, Leanne Dougherty sang with us. She's a great alto!

Any events coming up that we should keep an eye out for?

Our spring concert is Saturday, April 26th at 7:30pm in Alumnae Hall. We will be performing Classical, Jazz, Broadway, and will feature special guests, the Simmons Sirens!

What advice would you give women in the Simmons community on joining the Choir?

The minimum requirement is that you have to be able to carry a tune in a bucket. You can learn the rest. Come sing for Simmons! Join your Simmons sisters in song - you'll be glad you did! All students, faculty, and staff are welcome. To join, please email me! And be sure to Like the Simmons Concert Choir on Facebook.