Mount Holyoke's Glee Club and Chamber Singers were recently honored with an invitation to perform at the prestigious American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) conference which will be taking place in Boston In February 2016. Led by Director of Choral Ensembles and Lecturer in Music Lindsay Pope '07, the two groups were among a total of only 15 ensembles selected for this honor. Pope shared with us why she chose MHC and how she is now trying to change the way women's choirs are perceived in our society:
I did not intend to go to a women's college. In fact, I was quite resistant to the idea. However, when I was participating in campus overnights at prospective colleges, I found that I loved the students I met at Mount Holyoke the most, because they both challenged and affirmed my individuality. During that overnight, I felt like I actually made friends, and I also felt that those friends I made were very different from anyone I had grown up around in homogeneous suburbia. I didn't realize it then, but it was actually the women's college component that I loved most. I loved being around a diverse set of students who celebrated each other for their differences, their passions, and their intellect.
Over the next four years, I found my niche at Mount Holyoke, and it was in the Music Department. I could have gone to a conservatory, but because I went to MHC, I probably had more performance opportunities in a less competitive environment. I also had access to amazing musicology and music theory courses that duly prepared me for graduate work in music. I was so fortunate to return to Mount Holyoke after graduation to serve as the Music Department's first Choral Assistant, a job that gave me the podium time and skills necessary to get into a top graduate school for choral conducting.
After completing my graduate degree, it just so happened that the position at Mount Holyoke was open. I can't really say that I chose to return here; I can only say that Mount Holyoke chose me, and it is a dream come true that they did!
I feel so passionately about the work that we do here, both as a college and also within the choral ensembles. I am trying to redefine how women's choirs are perceived in our society. They are not second-rate ensembles singing second-rate music. They are an opportunity to commission new, sophisticated music for women's choirs, something this genre really needs. They are powerhouses for change.
The students at Mount Holyoke are not "missing out" on a co-ed singing experience; rather, they are adding a new perspective to the dialogue of choral music. In this way, they are engaging meaningfully in the world, affecting significant change in social and musical dynamics. I don't think they always realize how special our choirs are when they are here, but I often receive emails from alumnae telling me that choral singing was the defining experience of their time at MHC. These emails, calls, or conversations are what keep me going, and remind me that the work we do here is truly special.