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Artemis Singers: Celebrating 35 years of shows
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times
2014-11-12

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A community of lesbian feminist women who sing, Artemis Singers has been a fixture of the Chicago music scene for 35 years. Artemis Singers holds the distinction of being the first lesbian feminist chorus in the United States and, in 2008, the group was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame.

The group is open to any woman who is interested in singing, regardless of ability.

To cap off this year's performances, Artemis Singers will be singing at Lakeside Pride Music Ensemble's "Women in Music" celebration at the Preston Bradley Center on Sunday, Nov. 16, at 3 p.m. The celebration—featuring women composers, conductors and performers—will have Orange is the New Black star Lea DeLaria as host. The Lakeside Pride Symphonic Band will also be performing masterworks that evening.

Artemis Singers is a 38-member chorus performs music written and arranged only by women—composers, arrangers and lyricists. Since Artemis Singers operates in an organic non-hierarchical way, it has multiple artistic directors for any given concert and any member of the group can become an artistic director. All of the song selections are done by a consensus of the singers, and every singer has the opportunity to participate in the selection process for every concert.

Although the group doesn't operate in a hierarchical manner, as a 501( c )( 3 ) organization Artemis Singers has a president, Meta Hellman; vice-president, Midge Stocker; secretary, Sue Dunmore; treasurer, Loraine Edwalds; and directors Tina Beacock, Mary Diamond and Holly James. The group holds monthly business meetings and quarterly board meetings, both of which are open to all members to attend.

The artistic directors for the "Women in Music" celebration are Stocker and Katy Clusen. For their upcoming concert in February at Ethical Humanist Society, Alicia Case and Joy Culver will be serving as the artistic directors while production manager duties will be handled by Holly James and Mary Rapp.

"'For the 'Women in Music' concert, we are performing two songs ourselves. One of the songs we will be singing is a brand-new song written by two of our members called 'The Artemis Inclination.' We will be singing a third song with the band, so that should be really fun," said Stocker. "My hope is people will see the joy and beauty that women bring to music in both the instrumental and vocal realms."

Stocker explained that Artemis Singers is unique in that they are a politically motivated group of women who love women who are interested in social justice causes and making sure that women's voices are heard.

As for the most exciting places to be as performers, Stocker said that in terms of effecting positive change and cultural attitudes toward women and women artists and increasing the visibility of lesbian feminists, the March on Springfield for Marriage Equality and marriage-equality bill-signing ceremony stand out among the many performances they've done over the past three-plus decades of performing.

"Musically, the Sister Singers Network National Women's Choral Festival [Artemis Singers has hosted the festival twice—in 1986 and 2010] have been really meaningful," said Stocker. "We produced a festival in 2010 where we had 650 singers at Loyola University and the energy of all of those women singing together was just amazing for us."

Artemis Singers has also performed at the 2006 Gay Games VI at Millennium Park's Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Lincoln Center in New York City, the Center on Halsted, the Chicago Cultural Center, the Chicago History Museum, Women and Children First Bookstore and the Harold Washington Library as well as many other venues and fundraising events.

See www.artemissingers.org for more information. To purchase tickets to the "Women in Music" event, visit www.lakesidepride.org/events/women-in-music-top .


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