SINGING TOGETHER FOR JOY, SOCIAL JUSTICE, & COMMUNITY
Dr. Allison Thorp joined Womansong as Artistic Director in July 2022. She also serves as the Director of Choral Activities and Associate Professor of Music at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC, where she conducts the Concert Choir and University Chorus, teaches conducting and choral methods, and supervises student teachers in choral music education.
Claire Lemke joined Womansong as our Assistant Director in Spring 2023. She is always thrilled about any opportunity to gather and uplift other women, and adding joyful music-making and friendship to the mix is a perfect combination. She looks forward to continuing her work with the group and to experience the emotional and musical fulfillment to come.
Lytingale (Lois Hendricks) joined Womansong in 2002 as a singer and soon became Womansong’s extremely talented Accompanist and Composer. She is a singer songwriter, voice teacher, composer and arranger of solo and choral music. She has created over 20 original songs and arrangements for Womansong, including “Together We Can Change the World”, “With Great Love”, “I Will Carry You”, “Dress Like a Woman”, and “Me,Too”. Lyte also directs ensembles, leads sectional rehearsals, coaches soloists, and produces parts recordings. Her persistence and presence have been ongoing bulwarks of strength and growth for Womansong.
Our dedicated Assistant Directors Sarah Rubin and Martha Burrows stepped up to
become Acting Co-Directors, and led Womansong through the pandemic’s second
challenging year of Zoom and masking outdoors, at last conducting our first, in-person
post-pandemic live concert in May 2022.
Sarah joined Womansong in 2006, and has been a part of the Asheville music scene for
decades. As an accomplished violinist and multi-talented musician, she was soon drafted
to teach songs, make parts recordings, and provide violin accompaniment at concerts. She
served as assistant director from 2011 to 2022, providing organizational leadership and
coordinating production of Womansong’s two most recent CDs.
Martha began singing with Womansong in 2016. A talented composer, arranger, actor, and
former choir director, she produced and directed our 2020 live-stream presentation,
Womansong Reimagined. She has composed and arranged several songs for Womansong
over the years, and served as assistant director from 2020 to 2022.
Shiner Antiorio joined Womansong in 2000 as music interpreter, a role which continues to feed her spirit. Combining the beauty of American Sign Language with her passion for dance and music, Shiner presents an innovative interpretation enjoyed by Deaf and hearing audiences alike. Her work has been presented in numerous venues from Asheville to California, in schools and on the stage.
Womansong was founded in 1987 by Linda Metzner, composer, arranger, poet and music teacher. We are Asheville’s longest-running and largest women’s community chorus, a welcoming up to a seventy-five-member choir and village. We are women of diverse ages, musical abilities, backgrounds, and perspectives who sing together to nurture and uplift ourselves and our community.
Lively accompaniment is provided by a variety of instrumentalists, sometimes along with dancing, drumming and poetry. Through both its music and community efforts, Womansong brings women together to nurture our community and our world. The chorus promotes unity and honors cultural diversity with songs that celebrate many themes in women’s lives, including empowerment, spirituality, healing and humor.
For 23 years from 1994 – 2017, Womansong was directed by Debbie Nordeen. With her skill and talent in performance and choral arrangement, she developed concerts that filled the house and encouraged audience participation. This led to long a period of great growth in Womansong membership. Her focus on performance and vocal skills, as well as building group strength, yielded a confident Womansong able to present large benefit concerts in many venues around Western North Carolina. It also opened up relationships with the music departments of UNCA, Mars Hill, and Warren Wilson Colleges.
Althea Gonzalez gratefully joined the village of Womansong in 1999, serving as assistant director from 2005-2017 and as artistic director from 2018-2020. As director, she helped expand solo/ensemble performance opportunities to more members and strengthened the choir’s commitment to performing a bolder social justice repertoire, while continuing Womansong’s tradition of entertaining choreography and skits that delight audiences. Organizationally, Althea managed the first, “non-village” staff hires, formalized internal operational systems for greater effectiveness, and helped significantly expand the choir’s active participation with two national choir associations: Sister Singers Network and GALA.
Sue Ford, multi-instrumentalist and music teacher, joined Womansong in 1999. She accompanied the chorus on piano, guitar, cello, banjo and djembe, and began working with the director, Debbie Nordeen on arranging and composing for the chorus. This evolved into her serving in the position of Assistant Director. She also implemented and directed Womansong’s first percussion ensemble, and she assisted with behind-the-scenes production work on some of Womansong’s earliest recordings. Sue and Debbie composed and arranged several songs, including “Heal Me”, which premiered as a work for the mass chorus at the 2014 Sister Singer Network Festival.
Womansong is proud to be a member of both the Sister Singers Network (SSN) and GALA Choruses movement. We have attended and performed at numerous SSN national conferences: Grand Rapids, Champaign-Urbana IL, Chicago, and more. We’re now planning for SSN in Cleveland in 2023, where Allison will conduct a mass choir performing a new piece composed by our accompanist, Lytingale.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Esther E. Manheimer, Mayor of the City of Asheville do hereby proclaim October 7, 2017 as
in the City of Asheville, and call upon all citizens to celebrate the beauty of song and support Womansong in their mission to spread joy and harmony across Western North Carolina and empowering women.