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Focus on Women concert places emphasis on Mother Earth


The Central Michigan University Women's Chorus hosted the seventh annual Focus on Women concert Sunday in the Staples Family Concert Hall, impressing its audience with its emphasis on Mother Earth, the feminine persona and nature.

“I liked the fact that the main theme was songs of Mother Earth and women,” said concert attendee and Ionia sophomore Dominic Essich. “I could definitely see the Mother Earth section and I liked that there were songs coming from multiple cultures.”

The concert opened with a song from the perspective of the Mi’kmaq, the first Canadian nation. The concert also featured a Jewish piece entitled “Al Shlosha D’Varim”.

Alan J. Gumm, conductor of the Women’s Chorus, said students have been preparing for this concert since the first week of classes in January. The professor of music education has been preparing all year.

“In the fall I get to know their voices and what their sound is and who they are as personalities,” Gumm said. “I get to know them and choose appropriate to this particular group.”

Soloist and West Bloomfield freshman Essence Simmons performed a piece titled “The Heart of a Woman.” She said the piece was discovered by her vocal instructor and was a "perfect fit."

The individual soloists, who are women studying singing, chose their pieces from their own repertoire to fit the theme, Gumm said.

Gumm said the students he works with in the Women’s Chorus are greatly diverse.

“I would describe them as being of varied singing colors that together creates its own fabric of sound,” Gumm said. “Everybody plays a unique role, and together we make something more than any of us could do individually.”

Every year, the Women’s Chorus attempts to find connections with other women’s groups on campus and in the community.

“I’m glad that we’re focusing on women and our struggles and what we’re doing about it," Simmons said. "I think right now is the time to really focus on women.”

For future Focus on Women concerts, Gumm said he leaves the themes up to creative whims.

“We’ve done women composers, women poets,” Gumm said. “We’ve done women themes such as comparing heroines and Jezebels, so we do the good and bad sides of women across history.”

Gumm takes suggestions and invites students at the end of the year, who plan on returning the next fall, to have a conversation about potential theme ideas.

“I try to open up to different perspectives and let the idea float until it comes together, and I’ll know it when I know it,” Gumm said. “It’s a shared vision.”

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