The Women’s Chorus
Boston’s Most Vulnerable Singing Together
Launched in September 2018 by David McCue and Kristo Kondakçi as a project of the Eureka Ensemble, The Women’s Chorus (TWC) connects women experiencing poverty and homelessness with the healing power of music.
Since its launch, the chorus has engaged over 80 of Boston’s most vulnerable women from many diverse backgrounds, ages 19 to 82. Women in this new, permanent chorus have come to the ensemble through their association with The Women’s Lunch Place.
Eureka’s assistant conductor, Ismael Sandoval, serves as the artistic director of this program, assisted by the Eureka core team and volunteers including two section leaders, two voice teachers, and a piano accompanist.
TWC serves as a unique therapeutic approach to healing, dignity, and empowerment and offers a direct link to the performing arts and an opportunity for singers to experience creativity and growth, both on an individual and communal level, while fostering meaningful relationships with professional musicians. Performances raise funds in support of causes that chorus members select.
TWC is proud to be partnered with Women’s Lunch Place, a non-profit day shelter and meals program for women experiencing homelessness or poverty in Boston, with the aim of restoring dignity to the women served.
On May 12 a concert was produced by the Eureka Ensemble of music entirely by women composers. One of the pieces was a new composition entitled “Sheltering Voices” a eureka commission by composer Stephanie Ann boyd, based on a poem about the experience of homelessness for women.
Two months prior to the concert, the Eureka team auditioned a small group of women from homeless shelters in Boston and Cambridge to learn how to sing in a choir and to learn the new piece. Each singer was called a Fellow and was to be paid a stipend for singing in the performance.
Ten days before the performance, with the support and encouragement of Maritsa Rosario, GM of TWLP, more singers were auditioned at The Women’s Lunch Place, many of whom were both capable and enthusiastic. It was too late to teach them the whole piece, so Eureka invited those who wanted to sing in the concert, sit in the front two rows and sing “Amazing Grace” as an encore.
The concert was a great success and the courageous women singers of the encore were rewarded with a standing ovation from an enthusiastic audience.
Follow up conversations uncovered a strong interest by all parties to build on the experience by creating a new permanent chorus made up of homeless women sourced from The Women’s Lunch Place, Pine Street Inn and Rosie’s Place.
There is a critical need for those experiencing poverty and homelessness to bring their voices to the public discourse, to increase their access to the performing arts, and to expand public awareness about the realities of homelessness. Our work offers a direct link to the performing arts and a chance for each singer to learn about and experience their own creativity and growth. This ensemble also serves as a unique therapeutic approach to healing and empowerment.