Mary Lycan, the founder of Women’s Voices, spent some time in Europe in the 1990s searching for historical compositions by women that had never before been brought to life. After moving from California to Chapel Hill, Lycan was in search for a new chorus group to replace the one she left back home. She founded Women’s Voices and began producing historic European songs through the Treble Clef Music Press.
Shelley Hedtke, Women’s Voices’ current president, is keeping that tradition alive 20 years later.
“There’s this wonderful library out in the world of music that we have never heard in the United States, and let’s bring this music back to the United States because it’s wonderful,” Hedtke said. “We’ve really stuck to this vision, and that’s what makes us really special.”
Women’s Voices also commissions new music from female composers written especially for concerts.
The “Songs of My Sisters” 20th anniversary concert not only celebrates the age of the group, but it allows a chance to look back at past performances.
“For us, this concert is really unique because every piece we’re singing has either been arranged for or commissioned by Women’s Voices chorus, so every single piece in the concert was conceived with this particular group in mind,” said spokeswoman Erin Branch.
“Some of them are things we did 10 or 15 years ago, and some of them are fairly recent, and one of the songs we’re singing this time around is a brand new composition by our artistic director, Allan Friedman, called ‘The Nine Muses.’”
In addition to their choral performances, Women’s Voices gets involved in the Chapel Hill and Durham communities by holding benefit concerts during the summer. The shows are free of charge, but the group asks for donations to give to local charities, including Arts for Life, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and Caring House in Durham.
“I think it’s important to bring beauty and music to the world,” Friedman said.
“I think that sometimes it’s hard to put a value on that, but there’s definitely something good about coming together, creating something beautiful and unique in time and adding that to our diverse community.”