Season 1, 1996-1997: “Mad”

  • Inaugural season. First rehearsal attended by approximately 10 women
  • Wanted to sing music composed or arranged by women in GR
  • First public performance on January 12,1997 at Trinity United Methodist Church
  • First Spring Concert on May 10, 1997 at Ladies Literary Club
  • Languages sung included Hebrew, Swahili, Spanish, and English
  • At end of season, had 22 singers, an accompanist, a director, and a decision to go after 501(3)(c) status in order to fund and sustain ourselves

Season 2, 1997-1998: “Second Annual Spring Concert”

  • Women’s History Month performance at Alma College
  • Joyce Recker becomes accompanist
  • Nearly 30 singers and a Spring Concert audience of 250
  • First board meeting held on January 15, 1998. Officers: Chair – Cheryl Beatty, Vice Chair – Janice Scalza, Secretary – Janet Thering, Treasurer – Martha VanderEyk

Season 3, 1998-1999: “Wings to Fly”

  • Concerts included Schuler Books & Music, World AIDS Day conference, Holiday Fest, “Soups On” benefit, Bygones Antiques
  • Annual meeting established, along with strategic planning (facilitated by Dotti Clune)
  • Added nine new members

Season 4, 1999-2000: “Weaving Memories”

  • First CD for sale
  • Concerts included Schuler Books and Music, Fountain St. Church, Witness “A Celebration of Faith Full Women” award ceremony, Legacy 2000 at Wealthy St. Theatre
  • Blithe Brouwers becomes accompanist
  • First fundraising auction, Winter Concert at Trinity United Methodist
  • First performance by the Small Ensemble directed by Martha VanderEyk
  • First Spring Concert at St. Cecilia’s

Season 5, 2000-2001: “Fill the Sky”

  • First commission – “Rainsong” by Marjan Helms
  • Partnered with Sistrum Lansing Women’s Chorus to promote, organize and hostthe 8th International Sister Singers Network (SSN) festival (22 choruses, 500 singers) – our first festival ever (go big or go home!)
  • Received “Hometown Heroes” award from GR Chamber of Commerce

Season 6, 2001-2002: “Peaceful Measures”

  • First chorus logo
  • First Fall Retreat at Khardomah Lodge in Grand Haven to prepare for “Where I Live,” Breast Cancer Oratorio by Diane Benjamin, a fundraising effort for Gilda’s Club and Reeling and Healing of West Michigan
  • Concerts included: WIL, American Association of University Women, PFLAG National meeting

Season 7, 2002-2003: “Earthbeat”

  • Second commission – “Earthbeat” by Janika Vandervelde
  • Jean Garnder becomes accompanist
  • Concerts included 25th Festival of Music at Trinity United Methodist, Spectrum Health Cancer Center, Collaboration with West MI Academy for Girls
  • Performed at National Women’s Music Festival at Kent State University – one of three choruses to take the stage for the first time in the festival’s 29 years
  • Launched first version of website

Season 8, 2003-2004: “I Hear Her Voice”

  • “Echoes of Africa” concert with Giwayen Mata, award-winning traditional Afrikan dance, percussion and vocal ensemble.
  • Weekend highlights included collaboration with Grand Rapids youth organizations to host dance and percussion workshops at local youth centers

Season 9, 2004-2005: “When I Am an Old Woman”

  • Teresa Tome played an Old Woman during the Spring concert as we sang, entertaining the audience
  • Third commission – “Memorial 1” – lyrics by Audre Lourde, composed by Dr. Ysaye Barnwell

Season 10, 2005-2006: “Celebrating Time Together”

  • Purchased official outfits – Long dragonfly vests
  • Second chorus logo
  • Lori received YWCA Tribute Award for Arts Advocacy
  • Fourth commission – “Summer Day,” by Libby Larsen (lyrics by Mary Oliver)
  • Toni Gould becomes accompanist
  • First recording in a recording studio
  • Attended Sister Singers Network in San Diego (25th anniversary of SSN)

Season 11, 2006-2007: “Underneath the Whispering Trees”

  • Fifth commission – “Salmon Run,” by Marjan Helms (first through the Memorial Fund)
  • Blithe Brouwers returns as accompanist
  • Arabic workshop; speech/reception for Women for Women International (joint sponsorship with GROW and YWCA)
  • Concerts included: Women’s History Month fundraisers in Lansing and GR (WfW in GR); Tribute Awards with Edie Evans Hyde
  • Lori has first published piece, “Iraqi Peace Song”

Season 12, 2007-2008: “Now We Hope”

  • Participated in American Choral Directors’ Association choral clinic at Hill Auditorium at University of Michigan with head clinician Dr. Pearl Shangkuan from Calvin College
  • Women’s History Month events: Hosted a sold-out concert featuring Ulali, a First Nation performance Trio, along with representative performance groups from Michigan tribes: Woodland Singers, Songbird Singers, Little Traverse Band of Odawa, Saginaw, and Chippewa Tribes
  • Local drummers and singers were invited to a drumming workshop as part of the concert weekend.
  • Received website grant and launched new site in 2007 to promote Spring Concert

Season 13, 2008-2009: “Seeds of Change”

  • Sixth commission – “Dandelion” by Marjan Helms
  • Concerts included cultural enhancement event at Spectrum’s Butterworth Campus, WIL for Hope Lodge fundraiser, Muskegon Peace concert, Dogwood Center for Performing Arts (Fremont)
  • Launch of new website

Season 14, 2009-2010: “Rhapsody!”

  • Winter and Spring concerts; Bethlehem Lutheran Church’s MAJIC – Musical Arts for Justice in the Community; Saugatuck Center for the Arts; Fountain St. Church
  • Holly Near workshop in collaboration with Sistrum Lansing Women’s Chorus
  • ACDA – Women’s Consortium commission
  • Sang at Dedication of Rosa Parks statue
  • Attended Sister Singers Network event in Chicago, IL

Season 15, 2010-2011: “La La Palooza”

  • Work with DVQ Studios on communications and branding efforts thanks to a grant from the Amos Fund
  • GRWC has new presence on Facebook
  • First year Spring concert at East Grand Rapids Performing Arts Center

Season 16, 2011-2012: “Sweet Mystery”

  • Roll out of new logo and communications materials
  • First Artistic Director contract and compensation
  • Seventh commission – “Eagle Rounding Out the Morning” by Joan Szymko
  • Becky Sneller becomes accompanist
  • Pure Michigan sing along performance
  • Invited to sing at Tapestry International in Vancouver hosted by Elektra Women’s Choir
  • Official release of videos from Spring Concert on YouTube

Season 17, 2012 – 2013: “A Song to Keep”

  • Small Ensemble becomes Lady Oak
  • Matthew Gonzales becomes accompanist
  • Began community give-back of 10% of Spring Concert proceeds. First recipient: Girls, Inc.
  • Alzheimer’s Stories collaboration with the Grand Rapids Chamber Choir
  • Collaboration with Muse in Cincinnati for International Women’s Day: “The Rising of the Women Is the Rising of Us All”

Season 18, 2013-2014: “Forget Me Not”

  • Eighth commission – “The Kiss” by Andrea Clearfield
  • Phil Pletcher becomes accompanist
  • Second community give-back: Grandville Avenue Arts and Humanities (GAAH)
  • Collaboration with Embellish Bell Choir: “Vivos Voco: Songs to Ward Off Evil Spirits”
  • Joint Performance with Girls Choral Academy
  • Attended Sister Singers Network in SSN in Champaign-Urbana, IL

Season 19, 2014-2015: “Juntos Somos Fuertes”

  • Third community give-back: Justice for Our Neighbors
  • Workshops on immigration (Justice for Our Neighbors) and diversity and inclusion presented by Sonya Hughes
  • Four Pianos mass chorus performance

Season 20, 2015-2016: “Passion. Purpose. Song.”

  • Ninth commission – “Colors” by Marjan Helms
  • Performed “Rosa Sat” for rededication of Rosa Park statue
  • Lady Oak performed the National Anthem for two Griffins games
  • Dr. Cathy Roma presented a workshop to the GRWC and Sistrum Lansing Women’s Chorus about the history of women’s music.
  • Performed at the 2016 Aquinas College Choral Invitational Concert
  • Fourth community give-back: Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America
  • 20th Annual Spring Concert and release of 40+ songs from past and present seasons for the public
  • Performed a reprise of our spring concert in Traverse City on July 16, 2016

Season 21, 2016 – 2017: “We Are One”

  • Performed for the “Let Their Voice Be Heard” Gala Event with Girls Choral Academy honoring Teresa Weatherall Neal
  • Collaboration with Embellish Handbell Ensemble: “Ancient Echoes”
  • Performed at the Human Trafficking Prayer Service hosted by the Dominican Sisters of Marywood Academy
  • Performed at Temple Emmanuel for Yom Hashoah “Day of Remembrance” service
  • Hosted SSN annual meeting which was attended by 25 out of town guests representing 11 different choruses from around the US in preparation for Grand Rapids hosting the 2018 Sister Singers Network Festival: “More Than Music Here”
  • Fifth community give-back: Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force

Season 22, 2017 – 2018: “Songs of Flight”

  • Work in progress!