San Diego Women’s Chorus
WHAT DOES YOUR ORGANIZATION DO?
The San Diego Women’s Chorus encourages women’s creativity, celebrates diversity and inspires social action. For over 25 years, SDWC has been singing to combat oppression and fight for equality. We sing to celebrate love and friendship and to grieve injustice and loss. We sing to encourage, empower and embolden ourselves, our audience and our community.
As a chorus which was originally established as lesbian-identified, SDWC provides an essential and unique environment for both audience members and singing members to be in a safe, affirming and creative space. While our lesbian roots are fundamental to our identity and vital to our legacy, our chorus is open to all women and we have a strong straight-ally contingent in both our membership and audience. Our repertoire focuses on music written or made famous by women and LGBT and LGBT-allied artists, with themes such as love, peace and equality, which highlight the universal experiences and needs shared by all humanity, fostering compassion and understanding within our diversity.
HOW MANY PEOPLE DO YOU SERVE?
Our organization serves thousands of people.
Internally, our welcoming sisterhood of musicians provides a safe, encouraging environment for nearly 100 singers. Our rehearsals provide a place for lesbian, bisexual, gender queer and allied women to come together in song, finding and using their voices to enact the power of music.
Our spring and winter concerts reach about 1,500 audience members, total. However, this year, we will almost reach that number in just one concert, as our “Songs of Protest, Songs of Peace” event at the 1,400 seat Balboa Theatre is well on its way to being a sold-out event. And, of course, our participation in San Diego Pride allows us to reach thousands and thousands. We participate in many other community events as well, such as North County Pride @ the Beach, UCSD World AIDS Day, International Women’s Day, Special Delivery Holiday Dinner, Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast and the San Diego Remembers Matthew Shepard Vigil.
WHAT ARE YOUR MAJOR ANNUAL ACTIVITIES?
Through thought-provoking concerts and community outreach performances, the chorus serves the LGBTQ community and beyond with programming that honors and celebrates both the diversity and universality of the human experience. We produce two major concerts each year, one in spring and one in winter. We also have our summer “Pride” season when we prepare for our performance(s) at San Diego Pride and, every other summer, we travel to participate in choral festivals with other LGBT and feminist choruses.
This season in collaboration with the Human Dignity Foundation and thanks to the generous sponsorship from community leaders — including San Diego Pride — we are putting together the biggest concert event in our 27 year history. We will be performing our “Songs of Protest, Songs of Peace” concert on stage at the Balboa Theatre with our special guests, the Indigo Girls. This incredibly exciting concert is going to be a powerful, moving musical experience in its own right, but is also notable because it is a fundraising event benefiting SDWC, HDF and HDF’s newly launched Lesbian Health Initiative.
WHEN WAS YOUR ORGANIZATION FOUNDED?
Our community chorus was established in 1987 by community activist Dr. Cynthia Lawrence-Wallace, and at the time consisted of just 14 lesbian-identified women singing around a piano in someone’s home.
HOW MANY YEARS HAS YOUR ORGANIZATION PARTICIPATED IN SAN DIEGO PRIDE?
Lots! 🙂 While there were some years in the early 2000’s when the group was very small and SDWC didn’t participate, we have been actively involved in SD Pride events most years of our existence.
IN WHAT WAYS HAS YOUR ORGANIZATION PARTICIPATED IN SAN DIEGO PRIDE?
SDWC has performed at the rally, the parade and the festival. We also often have an informational booth and a float. Last year, in addition to performing our own repertoire, we were honored to sing the national anthem at the rally and also for the military contingent in the parade. This year, we are also grateful to San Diego Pride for inviting us to sing the national anthem at Petco Park for “Out at the Park” day.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR YOUR ORGANIZATION TO PARTICIPATE IN SAN DIEGO PRIDE?
SDWC exists to serve members of the lesbian and bisexual women’s community, as well as the San Diego community as a whole. Being part of the far-reaching, well-publicized San Diego Pride events provides us with an opportunity to celebrate with our LGBT community and also provides a way for us to share our voices and mission with the community as a whole (both in San Diego and beyond) as just one facet of the incredibly diverse LGBT experience in San Diego. As the world around us has evolved since our inception in 1987, SDWC has evolved into a diverse, multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-generational organization with women from all backgrounds and sexual identities. We believe that as we work together — as LGBTQ-identified individuals and straight allies — our sisterhood of musicians and community of song creates a more fair and just world by shedding light on inequality, fostering respect for diversity and breaking down the barriers created by prejudicial stereotypes.
WHAT VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES DO YOU HAVE AVAILABLE?
Our chorus is non-audition and welcomes any woman who can match pitch with the piano. For non-singers, we have a volunteer auxiliary group called the Accents that help us primarily with day-of-performance logistics, such as collecting tickets, setting up refreshments, managing the venue space. We are also actively seeking community-based volunteers for our Board of Directors, especially individuals with experience in human resources, fundraising and public relations. Our auxiliary group welcomes both women and men who are interested in helping us further our mission.
HOW ELSE CAN PEOPLE GET INVOLVED WITH YOUR WORK?
Come to our concerts! Our chorus has grown from about 25 singing members in 2009 to nearly 100 today. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Chris Allen, the quality of our sound rivals that of auditioned choral groups. Our ticket sales are a major source of revenue and help us secure rehearsal and performance space, provide workshops for our singers and hire guest instrumentalists for our shows to add extra depth and richness to the musical experience for our audience. We are also always open to collaborating with other like-minded organizations for community performances and joint fundraising opportunities.
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