Renowned women's chorus to sing in Lewes May 20

May 16, 2018

The Delaware Women's Chorus of Wilmington will perform "Stages," a collection of choral music written expressly for women seeking to explore the stages of life, at 4 p.m., Sunday, May 20, at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Second and Market streets, Lewes. There is no charge for this special concert, but freewill offerings are welcome.

Honoring such women composers as Ruth Gwyneth Walker and Eleanor Dailey, the program encompasses a wide variety of styles and genres, according to Joanne J. Ward, chorus conductor and artistic director since 2006. She said the chorus of 30 women is diverse in race, cultural background, and musical experience but united by their love of singing and desire to honor women composers and women in history by performing high-quality choral music. It is their first appearance under the auspices of the St. Cecilia Guild, St. Peter's two-year-old musical outreach program that brings outstanding musicians and singers to southern Delaware.

Two years ago, the chorus traveled to Northern Ireland for an eight-day performance tour, and last year it performed in Austria and the Czech Republic in its second European concert tour. In June 2019, the women will sing throughout the Balkans – Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

The one-hour concert at St. Peter's will include 14 compositions, ranging from a song using the text of John 1:1–3 that describes the beginning of the world, to "The Sea Witch," a rollicking sea chantey about Anne Bonny, an infamous woman pirate in the early years of the 18th century, and "Old Grandma," a Canadian folk song arranged by Alice Parker that provides a stark reminder of how unsung women were an integral part of the settling of the West, and how much they endured to make that a reality.

The program ends with "All My Trials," composed by Gwyneth Walker, often classified as a spiritual but also known as a protest song, and "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," a traditional Appalachian folk song with text by Betsy Rose, Cathy Winter and Marcia Taylor.

Joanne Ward was the founder and director of the Wilmington Youth Chorale and the Delaware Children's Chorus at the Music School of Delaware, retiring from that position in 2004. She continues to serve at the Wilmington music school as the Vocal/Choral Department chair, Master Faculty with Distinction, and maintains voice studios in Wilmington and at her home in Milford.