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Saturday Letters

Women's Choirs Thriving

June 29, 2002

Critic Chris Pasles' suggestion that the popularity of women's choirs was more anchored in archaic 19th century Victorian values, and thus has created a "problem of repertory" for contemporary women's choruses, is quaintly and patently wrong ("Vox Femina Finds an Accessible Choral Avenue," June 24). There is a vast literature for women's chorus, written especially for women, spanning centuries.

However, Pasles' review illuminates the image problem that women's choruses often face, namely that women, singing together, are somehow viewed as Victorian: prim, sexless, humorless, quaint ladies' tea aficionadas, with a literature of ditties. Having myself written a Requiem for women's chorus and another celebrating the vagina, I can tell you that the women's chorus repertory has many pieces with grit, wit, bold messages, complexity and diversity.

Perhaps the notion that women singing together and being erotic together (as singing together definitely is, and Vox Femina certainly demonstrated) is slightly disquieting to the general audience. It is their loss.

NAOMI STEPHAN

Ojai

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