A Festival of Women’s Voices, sponsored by Belle Canto Women’s VocalEnsemble, was held on April 13, 2019 at The Church of the Palms in Sarasota.

150 women, ages 14+, attended the all-day event that featured three morning workshops on Vocal Production and Vocal Health, Sight-Singing and Rehearsal Preparation, and the Art of Ensemble Singing.  Renowned composer, Joan Szymko, Dr. Susan Lyle, Associate Professor of Voice at Petrie College of Music, and Genevieve Beauchamp, Artistic Director of Sarasota Young Voices, conducted workshops.

The afternoon featured a celebration concert that was free to the public.  The concert included performances by Bayshore High School’s Women’s Ensemble under the direction of music teacher Alexis Pletinicks, Sarasota Young Voices, under the direction of Ms. Beauchamp, and Belle Canto Women’s Vocal Ensemble, under the direction of Nicole M. Smith.   The finale featured a 150 voice joint choir performance under the direction of Joan Szymko.  Two of Ms. Symko’s pieces were performed, a four part arrangement of “Peace Like a River,” a traditional spiritual and “I Dream a World” with poetry by Langston Hughes.  It was a thrill to be directed by a contemporary composer!

The concert ended with a standing ovation from the audience and congratulations all around.  Comments included “Excellent work-high artistic quality-a gem in Sarasota”; “The entire ensemble at the end was moving and beautiful”; “Absolutely amazing”; “Loved the program. So glad that we came!” “Wonderful program for our community – Inspiring!”

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