Pg 1 What A Year!
Pg 2 Presidents Messag
Pg 3 Notes from the Music Directo
Pg 4 Letters to the Editor
Soromudi comes together in song to create a visible expression of Lesbian pride. We strive for musical excellence, and embrace our commonalities and differences. Through the power of music and inclusion we effect positive change in our community
Our Membership Statement
Chorus membership is open to anyone over the age of 18, who identifies as a woman. We welcome members of all orientations, races, ethnicities, abilities, economic statuses, and religions. We embrace a broad definition for self-identified women, which includes lesbian, straight, bisexual, cisgenger, transgender, and intersex women, individuals with non-binary gender expressions, and gender expansive individuals who find home within women’s spaces. This can include gender non-conforming, a-gender, two-spirit, butch, femme, and many other identities. We intend this membership definition to be as in-clusive as possible while honoring and reaffirming our history and identify as Soromundi Lesbian Chorus of Eugene.
What A Year!
After the chorus’s absence the entire prior season of 2020/2021 the chorus began what would be an up and down new season. Not knowing how the season would proceed in a world of COVID, the chorus met for the first time in September. It was normal to begin a season with open rehearsals in September. However, it was decided not to add more members with the pandemic still looming. The first rehearsal was held outside in a rented shelter at Wayne Morse Ranch. Following CDC guidelines, all members were required to have had both the 1st and 2nd vaccinations, be masked and stay socially distant. Under these conditions an outside venue made sense. “The experience while being masked was difficult” some members reported.
There was the pure joy of singing together again as well as difficulty in getting breath while masked. Some purchased special singing masks that allowed more space around the nose. As one member said, “It was at least possible to get a good breath without sucking the mask up your nose!”
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The Fall Retreat was held at Sky Camp at Fall Creek. The focus for 2021/2022 was vocal recovery. Not having sung for 1 ½ years it was important for everyone to start building vocal stamina, pitch, breathing, getting range back, and general vocal recovery. Laura Wayte was invited to give a special vocal coaching session. She taught exercises for warm up, range expansion, breathing, and strengthening vocal cords. Those exercises are still being used today.
The next move was to the “Toaster Church’s” fellowship hall. It was challenging because there was a limit to how many could meet at one time (which was approximately ½ of the members} and due to the air circulation, there was a 1-hour time limit to singing then the church had to be vacated in order for the air to circulate. The Sopranos and Altos would rehearse for an hour. The church was vacated for an hour before the Tenors and Basses would arrive for their hour of rehearsal. That must have been a crazy time…
Message from the President
Soromundi Lesbian Chorus of Eugene is thrilled to be starting our 2022-23 season in a more familiar way with open rehearsals in September and welcoming many new members who are eager to sing in community. This issue of our newsletter looks back at the many moves and adaptations we made last season to accomplish our May Concert at the Hult Center and our recording that will be released early next year. We’re grateful to the many places that allowed us to gather and sing at a time when they, too, were bringing their programs back in person. Our directors, leaders, and members worked together to interpret the latest COVID guidelines, develop protocols, and put them into practice. It was remarkable to feel our trust and confidence grow as the season progressed and to feel the joy of singing together return!
I also want to take this space to recognize our immediate past president, Kate Barry, for her extraordinary leadership during this unprecedented time. She led us calmly and optimistically through all the unknowns, keeping us focused on our mission and core values at a time when we couldn’t sing together. Thank you, Kate, for your many years of service and dedication to our chorus and our community!
Micki Varner – Soromundi President
The chorus then found a facility where all the members could assemble at one time. The new home was the Central Presbyterian Church. Members reported what a pleasure it was to be a full choir again. Rehearsals seemed a lot more normal even though they were still masked and socially distant.
The chorus was gaining momentum when the COVID variant hit. Suddenly they were back to ZOOM rehearsals. In the face of this setback, the chorus was determined to weather the storm and not lose momentum.
That soon passed and all were back together once again. All the while the leadership was vigilant in their commitment to keep
all safe. The CDC guidelines were followed and the Music Director keep abreast of the recommendations of the National Choir Association. COVID cases and community immunity were tracked and those numbers were reported to all members at rehearsals. It was amazing how all members and the choir community came together to take care of themselves as well as each other. Members stayed home with any sign of a cold, a few who were exposed or tested positive reported to the leadership so all were made aware. Members tested when exposed and if they traveled outside the area prior to the next rehearsal. All the members were committed to sing together and do it safely.
Notes from the Music Director
Welcome back! There are no words to describe what we’ve been through this past 2 years, but you’ve probably got some idea because you’ve been through the same things: isolation, sick friends and family with no way to visit, job losses, food insecurity, missed holidays, remote schooling, and all the rest. Even now, our anxiety is at the ready as we worry about the possibility of fall case numbers spiking. However, despite the cancelled tours, missed concerts, and postponed recordings, HERE WE ARE! (and so thankful for this). Who would’ve guessed that singing would be one of the riskiest activities prior to the availability of vaccinations? Well, we have always been committed to spreading LOVE-not COVID, so we held remote rehearsals, fireside chats, discussion/study groups to educate ourselves on social justice issues, and remote events (like our Tiny Talent Show). Now we are getting back on our feet and able to hold rehearsals with a wonderful group of new members. This year, we are planning to give back to the community by sponsoring a series of 3-4 concerts that feature local performing groups. We want to actively help other voices in our community get back on their feet too. We will keep you posted on this calendar of events through our website. We hope that some of these performers will join us next spring at the Hult! Welcome back, Soromundi!
Lisa Hellemn, Music Director
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Each year prior to COVID the chorus held a “Tiny Talent Show”. All members were invited to participate with musical or vocal numbers, skits, poetry, or any act of their preference. It was decided to hold the Tiny Talent Show once again via ZOOM. There were so many great acts. And what a variety. The chorus members are so extraordinary and so talented in many ways. The members reported how great it was to be having so much fun after all the work under tough conditions.
The Spring retreat was held at the Center for Spiritual Living. By this time, the chorus was able to be “mask optional” and without “socially distancing”. Most of the work was on the repertoire, highlighted by Rhythm Lessons conducted by Claudia Paige, the chorus’s drummer. The chorus was hunkered down getting ready for their concert to be held at the Hult Center for Performing Arts.
The Music Director, Lisa Hellemn, announced early in the season that the chorus would perform at the Hult Center once again. The members were surprised and most did not believe they could pull it off. Members had all types of concerns. Some were fearful they would fall short of memorizing all the repertoire. Others doubted they’d be vocally strong enough for a full performance. No wonder with only a few weeks of being able to sing unmasked prior to a concert. With belief in their leadership and their own dedication, they simply “went for it”. Many chorus members expressed how
sweet it is to be singing full out on the concert stage of The Hult Center. The concert, held May 21 st was a huge success.
June 11th was a full day of recording at The SHEDD. Recording one vocalist is a lot of work. It usually requires 2-5 takes to get what you want to capture when recording one vocalist. When adding instrumentation and more voices it requires a lot more balancing. There were 8-10 microphones that pick up shifting of feet or other minor sounds. There is the down time between takes allowing for adjustments in microphone and people positioning. Therefore it is normal for a recording session of a chorus with vocal soloists and added instruments to take a full day. One member, when reflecting on the experience, said, “We must have been crazy.” All were completely exhausted but also exhilarated by the experience. All were courageous, hardworking, and persistent. The results were monumental. Release date yet to be announced. Check the Soromundi website for release date as it’s made available.
The chorus was invited to sing the National Anthem at the EM’s game on June 25th. All gathered at a park near the stadium for a
picnic prior to the game. While the event was marred by the repeal of Roe vs Wade, it was decided to go forth and represent the LGBTQ community. The performance was greatly appreciated.
And on this note, all that can be said is “What a Year”!!
Calendar of Events 2022-2023
Calendar of Events 2022–2023
Friday, January 13 U of O Nat’l Anthem Women’s Basketball
Tuesday, January 14 Valentine’s Sweetheart Ball w/Eugene Gleemen
Saturday, January 28 EGMC & Confluence Concert, Albany
Saturday, April 15 Roseburg Concert
Saturday, June 3 Hult Center Concert
(Check website for exact location and time)
A HUGE thank you
to all who contributed to this newsletter
Research: Kathy Hinson
Lesbian Chorus of Eugene
P.O. Box 97404
Photographer: Karin Hansen
Eugene, Oregon 97404
Letters to the Editor
The 2021-22 season was tough in some ways. Wearing masks to most rehearsals made it difficult to hear the other members of the choir. Hearing only my own voice meant I didn’t know how well we sounded together or how well we knew our parts. I was actually skeptical that we weren’t ready for a large performance. Having quite a long period of time without performances caused many of us to wonder if we could do that successfully. Once we got on stage in front of an audience however, we blew everyone away with our sound and our positive energy! I learned that we are capable of more than we realize and that our fearless leader knows what she is doing! Having to navigate changing venues and frequent COVID testing, as well as learning how to be in proximity to large groups of people again was a challenge indeed, but well worth the effort. I am so thankful for the consideration and thoughtfulness our members took to be not only patient and compassionate but also safe from unnecessary risk and exposure made me feel less afraid that I would have otherwise. Thank you Mundis!
I never knew how important and spiritual singing with Soromundi was, until I couldn’t. I missed gathering and coming together to sing, to socialize and to love each other, it was one of the hardest parts.
The 2021-22 season of Soromundi was difficult and also gratifying for me. I had been stuck at home missing my wife, who died in 2020, and missing my Soromundi community of singing sisters. I was happy to attend rehearsals that took place outside and some rehearsals indoors. However, once the statistics showed a surge of COVID cases, I resorted to ZOOM attendance or watching the recorded rehearsals. I enjoyed the ZOOM experience. I could place my iPad on my piano and play along if I wasn’t sure of my part or plunk out a not or two if that was all I needed. It actually helped me learn my part more precisely and somewhat faster than my past in-person experience. When it came time for performance, however, I was too worried about the pandemic to participate. I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to participate to the degree I felt comfortable.
Email letters to: Soromundi@gmail.com
Include name, address, and phone number. Only your first name will be published.
The opinions expressed by our community should not be interpreted as the view of Soromundi or its affiliates. Letters are published as space permits. Editor reserves the right to omit any derogatory comments towards any person(s).