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Mills Choir celebrates music by female composers

After a semester of practice, the Mills College Choir performed 12 songs by female composers for a crowd of more than 50 people in the Littlefield Concert Hall. 

The Choir’s third annual spring concert was on Sunday May 3; “Celebrating Women Composers: Where We Lead” was led by ensemble director Cindy Beitmen. The performance showcased the importance of female-composed songs. 

During the Choir’s performance of Ethel Smyth’s “March of the Women,” members wielded toothbrushes as a humorous take on usual symbols of power like a torch or a fist. The choir decided on waving toothbrushes a few days before the concert, according to Junior and President Lizzy Schultz of the Choir’s Board of Directors.

Despite the comedic elements, audience member Junior Nia Fitzpatrick said the concert had moments that brought her to tears.

“There were two songs on activism, which were a good way to connect with history on a personal level,” Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick also liked the theme of the concert because she felt that it fit well with the Mills community.

“I really liked the theme of female composers because it reflects the vision of Mills,” Fitzpatrick said. “It is about women’s empowerment and acknowledges the important role that women have had in history and in the arts.”

Three years after the organization’s revival with the help of Johnson and Schultz, the choir is now able to offer 0.25 semester course credit for participants. 

“We pushed a lot this year to get credit,” Schultz said. “It took a lot of hard work, lots of vocal warm-ups and dedication.”

First-year Alexa Barger, who is a member of the choir, said they have been rehearsing once a week on Wednesdays since the beginning of the semester.

“It’s just so much fun rehearsing, but it’s even more fun performing in front of the community,” Barger said.

According to Mills alumna Rebecca Johnson ’13, who was the first President of the Choir after its revival, the Choir brings the Mills community together.

“There is a mix of undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, staff and alums,” Johnson said. “There is no other organization like this. It brings everyone together.”

Mills alumna and current choir member Cato Thornton ’95 said that despite not having much experience with a choir, she learned a lot about the technical aspects of singing. Thornton also said that Beitman made the experience very humorous.

“I never missed a practice,” Thornton said. “I mainly went to choir for the laughs.”