Lori is the founding Artistic Director of the Grand Rapids Women’s Chorus and has served in that role since its founding in 1996. Passionate about expanding the depth of repertoire for women’s voices, she has collaborated with the Grand Rapids Women’s Chorus (GRWC) to commission and perform nine original works by women composers. Her advocacy was recognized in 2006 when she was honored with a YWCA TRIBUTE! Award in the Performing Arts category.
Since June of 2013, Lori is the Executive and Artistic Director of the Girls Choral Academy where she works to “Give Girls a Voice”, providing girls throughout West Michigan an opportunity to build confidence and community through choral music.
As an arranger, Lori published Iraqi Peace Song, a traditional Iraqi lullaby written by Knut Reiersrud and premiered by the GRWC in 2007.
Lori received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Aquinas College and is a member of the American Choral Directors’ Association, Michigan School Vocal Music Association and Chorus America.
Blithe filled the roles of accompanist, assistant director and soloist from 1998 to 2011 with the GRWC and is back after eight years in Pittsburgh, PA. She directs the small ensemble “Lady Oak” and works closely with Lori Tennenhouse, the artistic director, to meet the needs of this ever-growing community chorus.
Blithe earned her bachelor’s degree in music education from San Diego State University and master’s from Western Michigan University, also in music education. She taught for 25 years in public education, mostly as a middle school choral and musical theatre director where she directed many junior versions of major Broadway shows. Her choirs earned high ratings at district and state festivals.
She has a passion for understanding the social, cultural and physical aspects of music making. She was recently certified by the Smithsonian Institution in world music pedagogy and has spent many summers training in Dalcroze Eurhythmics, a teaching method that aligns movement to music. Her music teaching career began on the Navajo reservation and she recently taught for Pittsburgh Public Schools in a building with a mostly African refugee student population.
She is very happy to be back among the welcoming community of GRWC.
Philip W. Pletcher, conductor, pianist, actor and composer, has been active in music since age four and has played throughout the United States and Canada. He is a soloist and collaborative musician and is the pianist for Grand Rapids Women’s Chorus. Formerly, he served as pianist and conductor for the West Michigan Gay Men’s Chorus. He maintains a private teaching studio and has been a Production Pianist for Opera Grand Rapids.
Phil performs with William and Hollis Bokhout in the piano/vocal trio colla voce, has served as the Director of Music at Plymouth United Church of Christ, at First (Park) Congregational United Church of Christ and at St. Cecilia Music Society. Formerly, he was on the accompanying staff at Calvin College and Grand Valley State University. His arrangements for multiple pianos have been performed across the U.S.
He hosted the weekly radio show “Guest Conductor” for four years on WFGR 98.7 FM, the former Grand Rapids classical station, and is a past president of the Grand Rapids Piano Teachers’ Forum.
Mr. Pletcher received his bachelor’s degree in piano performance from Bethel College in consortium with Indiana University. His graduate study was at Michigan State University under Ralph Votapek. He has served on the board of directors of the Grand Rapids Bach Festival and on the Advisory Council for the Calvin College Artist Series. He is also past President of the Michigan Music Association.