Anna Crusis Women's Choir

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Anna Crusis Women's Choir, "Stand UP! Sing OUT!", December 7, 2014
Anna Crusis Women's Choir, poster by Gale B. Russo for June 14, 1980 Concert
External video
Anna Crusis Women's Choir, I Sing the Body Electric, 2015
Anna Crusis Women's Choir, The Anna Crusis Women's Choir: A Feminist Choir, MIND TV

The Anna Crusis Women's Choir is the oldest existing feminist choir in the United States, and is considered to be a founder of the North American LGBT choral movement.[1][2][3][4] It was established by Catherine Roma in 1975 in Philadelphia, in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.[1] Including both lesbian and straight women,[5] Anna Crusis is the earliest formed of the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses (GALA)[6][7] and the first women's chorus to become a member of GALA.[8]

The choir is named, not for a person, but for anacrusis, a musical term for "the unaccented – or 'feminine' – upbeat that sets the stage for a downbeat."[9] The choir focuses on music by, for and about women, and has commissioned pieces from a variety of composers.[10] It also recovers and performs historical pieces by women composers.[11]

Politics and Process[edit]

Signer James Rowe applauds, December 7, 2014

Anna Crusis has a strong educational and social mission, performing music from all over the world and addressing issues of peace, justice and equality both on stage and off.[3][12] They have a long history of supporting LGBT issues, frequently performing with other groups at events such as International Women's Day[13] and Philly Pride.[14]

An amateur community choir, performing a cappella, Anna Crusis places a strong emphasis on inclusiveness, welcoming female singers of all ages and sexual orientations.[5][15] The choir has included both physically impaired and hearing impaired singers, and traditionally includes a sign language interpreter at its concerts.[16] Although singers must audition, the choir includes singers of all levels of musical training ranging from those who do not read music, to those with professional training.[17]

Artistic Directors[edit]

Catherine Roma, 1975-1983[edit]

External video
Anna Crusis Catherine Roma June 6-7 2015 40th Anniversary concert.jpg
Catherine Roma, Anna Crusis in Philadelphia is where all the sparks began to happen, GALA Choruses

Catherine Roma was born in Philadelphia, and attended Germantown Friends School, a Quaker School. Roma earned a degrees in music and choral conducting at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and became involved in lesbian and feminist politics while studying there.[18] While in Wisconsin she worked with historian Ann D. Gordon to identify music by and about women throughout history, creating the folk opera American Women: A Choral History for the United States Bicentennial.[11] After returning to Philadelphia in 1975 to teach music at Abington Friends School,[18] she formed the Anna Crusis Women's Choir, which performed American Women: A Choral History at a number of colleges throughout the northeast.[19]

By starting Anna Crusis, the first feminist women’s choir in the United States, Cathy Roma became one of the founding mothers of the women's choral movement.[20] Her beliefs in feminism, social justice, and Quaker models of leadership fundamentally shaped the mission and direction of Anna Crusis.[18] Decisions were often made through a process similar to Quaker consensus, in which all members had a voice.[21]

Cathy Roma left Anna in 1983 to pursue a graduate degree in music at the University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music, receiving her Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in 1989. In Cincinnati Roma founded MUSE (Cincinnati's Women's Choir).[18]

Jane Hulting 1983–2005, sabbatical 2003[edit]

Jane Hulting, 2015

With the departure of Cathy Roma, the future of Anna Crusis became uncertain.[5][22] However, the choir was able to connect with Jane Hulting, originally from Minnesota. A graduate of the Conservatory of Music in Kansas City, Hulting moved to Philadelphia in 1983 to attend the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. She became musical director of Anna Crusis in 1984.[23] Under Hulting's direction, the choir's repertoire continued to be innovative, including a wide variety of languages and musical styles.[17]

Jacqueline Coren, interim 2003, 2005-2011[edit]

External video
Anna Crusis Jacqueline Coren June 6-7 2015 40th Anniversary concert.jpg
Jacqueline Coren, The Anna Crusis Women's Choir: Directing a Choir , MIND TV

Jacqueline Coren's first involvement with the Anna Crusis Women's Choir was as a singer. When Jane Hulting went on sabbatical, Jackie stepped in as interim director. When Jane left, Coren auditioned for the choir's board of directors and was eventually selected as the new musical director of the choir. Jacqueline Coren holds both a master's degree in choral conducting from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey and a master's degree in divinity from Quaker Earlham School of Religion. In addition to her work with Anna Crusis, she worked as choral director at the George School, a Quaker school in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and formed the Pendle Hill Chorus. Anna Crusis continued to perform a broad range of music, often reflecting political and social concerns of choir members of the choir who supported Anna Crusis' mission of social change through music. The choir continued to collaborate with other groups, including performing with Holly Near in a People's Music Network concert, participating in GALA's Equality Forum, and singing in a merged chorus with the Philadelphia Gay Men's Chorus and the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia.[17]

Miriam Davidson, interim 2011, 2012–[edit]

External video
Conductor Miriam Davidson 2014-12-07 DSCF0928 Crop.jpg
Miriam Davidson, Women feel like Anna gives them a place to be strong, to have a voice, to have a sense of sisterhood, GALA Choruses

Like Jackie Coren, Miriam Davidson's first connection to Anna Crusis was as a singer, in the 1980s. Beginning in 1995, she performed as part of the duo Wishing Chair.[24] When Jackie Coren went on sabbatical, Miriam temporarily replaced her as interim director. When Jackie Coren retired as musical director, Miriam replaced her as the new musical director of the choir.


  • But We Fight For Roses Too, 1989, remastered in 2010
  • Fresh Cut, 1993
  • Spaces Between the Stars, 2000
  • Anna Live: Raising Our Voices, 2007
  • The song Visions of Children, on Seeds: The Songs of Pete Seeger, Vol. 3

Works commissioned[edit]

Main Concerts / themes / guest artists[edit]

Anna Crusis Women's Choir, poster with Pete Seeger and Reggie Harris for January 27, 1995, concert

Anna Crusis sings a variety of concerts throughout the year, often with other organizations. Its main performances are its winter concert, usually held in November or December, and its spring concert, usually held in May or June. Concerts have included:

Miriam Davidson[edit]

  • December 10 & 11, 2016, “This Land is Our Land”
  • June 3 & 4, 2016, "Stronger for the Struggle"
  • December 5 & 6, 2015, "Sound Mind: Your brain on music"
  • June 6 & 7, 2015, 'Reclaiming the “F” Word', 40th anniversary concert, with all four conductors[43][44]
  • December 6 & 7, 2014, "Stand UP! Sing OUT!" with special guest Melanie DeMore[45]
  • June 7, 2014, "Beauty Unmasked: Songs of Strength, Wisdom and the Beauty Inside"[24]
  • December 7 & 8th, 2013, "Hungry for Justice" in partnership with Philabundance and MANNA.[46]
  • December 1 & 2, 2012, "Simply Love: A Marriage Equality Event" with members of Philadelphia Gay Men's Chorus and Philadelphia Voices of Pride[47][48]

Jacqueline Coren[edit]

  • December 10 & 11th, 2011, "Breaking News: 'Anna'dotes to the Headlines," with guest Sharon Katz.[49]
  • June 12, 2010, "35 years of singing for social justice," artistic director Jacqueline Coren, with guest conductors Catherine Roma and Jane Hulting.[16][50]
  • November 14 & 15, 2009, with guests Svitanya and Voices of a Different Dream.[51]
  • May 30, 2009, "All Our Children Can Fly," with guest Amy Dixon-Kolar.[12]
  • June 2007, "In the Cradle of Our Land"
  • December 2, 3, 4, 2005, "And All the Earth Shall Sing"

Jane Hulting[edit]

  • May 14, 2005, "Finding Her Here", last concert with Jane Hulting[36][52]
  • Dec. 4,5, 2004, "Seasons of Love"
  • Dec. 6, 7, 2003, "All the Wild Wonders"
  • Dec. 7, 8, 2002, "Workin’ for the Dawn of Peace"
  • Dec. 1, 2, 2001, "Something Inside So Strong"
  • Nov. 11, 12, 2000, "Sounds of the Spirit Where Angels Live", with guest Harold Smith on didgeridoo
  • Nov. 13,14, 1999, "Higher Ground"[53]
  • Nov. 14 15, 1998, "Coming into our years – 150 yrs. of feminism in Action", a Musical Celebration of the 1848 Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, NY
  • June 6, 1998, "No one has imagined us", Anna Crusis Women's Choir with Renaissance City Women's Choir (Pittsburgh), ACCO, A Chorus Celebrating Women (Allentown), and Central Pennsylvania Womyn's Chorus (Harrisburg)[54]
  • Nov. 15, 16, 1997, "When Choirs Sway"
  • June 7, 1997, "Anna Gumbo"
  • Nov. 8, 9, 1996, "Mama, I Want to Make Rhythm"
  • June 8, 1996, "Reach Across the Lines"
  • Feb. 26, 1996, reception for The Women's Leadership Forum of the Democratic National Committee and the Five County Democratic Women's Coalition, honoring First Lady Hillary Clinton and Tipper Gore
  • Jan. 27, 1995, "Common Threads" – The Concert! with guests Pete Seeger and Reggie Harris
  • Nov. 10, 11, 1995, "Celebrating 75 yrs of Women’s Suffrage", with Sacred Ways Dance Company
  • Nov. 9, 1994, "Joyful Recognition of the Feminine in all our lives", performed Sophia by Julia Haine
  • June 11, 1995, "Women's Voices: Women's Strengths", performed Word of Mouth by Nehassaiu deGannes.[32]
  • April 1992, "A Harmony of Voices," with guests Karen Saillant and Don Kawash, in partnership with the Bucks County commissioners' Advisory Committee on Women[10]
  • June 8, 1991, "PeaceWorks", protesting Operation Desert Storm.[31]
  • April 26, 1985, 10th anniversary concert
  • June 8, 1984, first spring concert with Jane Hulting

Catherine Roma[edit]

  • June 11, 1982, final concert with Cathy Roma as director[22]
  • June 1978, with first commissioned piece, Sappho by Anna Rubin[25]
  • June 1977, with guest conductor Kay Gardner[25]
  • 1975 American Women: A Choral History, a Bicentennial folk opera[55]

The Themis Award[edit]

As of 2009, the Anna Crusis Women's Choir created the Themis Award, named for the Greek goddess of visionary justice, to honor women dedicated to social justice, equality and peace, from the greater Philadelphia area.[12] The following women have been honored:

Awards Received[edit]


  1. ^ a b Summers, Claude J., ed. (2004). The queer encyclopedia of music, dance & musical theater (1st ed.). San Francisco: Cleis Press. p. 47. ISBN 9781573441988. 
  2. ^ Quadros, André de; Reynolds, Guy, eds. (2012). The Cambridge companion to choral music. Cambridge Companions to Music. New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 123. ISBN 978-0521128957. 
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  10. ^ a b c Quigley, Kathryn (2 April 1992). "'Harmony Of Voices' Will Fill Theater". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 10 June 2014. 
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  13. ^ Mabaso, Alaina (7 Mar 2013). "Mt. Airy Art Garage to host series of events commemorating International Women's Day". Newsworks. Retrieved 10 June 2014. 
  14. ^ "PRIDE CELEBRATION to Kick Off Pride Week in Philadelphia at the Kimmel Center, 6/3". Broadway World. 2 June 2014. Retrieved 10 June 2014. 
  15. ^ "Member Spotlight: Anna Crusis Women's Choir". GALA Choruses. Retrieved 10 June 2014. 
  16. ^ a b c Marder, Diana (June 10, 2010). "Do Re She: The Anna Crusis Women's Choir is celebrating 35 years of "singing with a purpose."". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 
  17. ^ a b c d Mckelvey, Anita (2007). "The Passions of Anna Crusis". Philadelphia Music Makers. 6 (2): 47–49. 
  18. ^ a b c d Follet, Joyce (19–20 June 2005). "Catherine Roma" (PDF). Voices of Feminism Oral History Project. Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  19. ^ Doane, Kathleen (2004). "MUSE's muse: How Catherine Roma created a women's choir that sings in a diverse key". Cincinnati Magazine. 
  20. ^ "The Dr. Catherine Roma Women Composers Commissioning Project". GALA Choruses. Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  21. ^ Shea, Kathleen (24 January 1992). "Anna Crusis: Many Voices, One Spirit". Philadelphia Daily News. Retrieved 10 June 2014. 
  22. ^ a b "Anna Crusis makes final bow". Au Courant. May 31 – June 6, 1982. 
  23. ^ Russell, Ruth R. (January 8, 1987). "Choir to present message in music at King tribute". Chestnut Hill Local. 
  24. ^ a b Simon, Ray (14 June 2014). "Women's choir celebrates Pride with song". Philadelphia Gay News (PGN). Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  25. ^ a b c Roma, Catherine (1978). "Anna Crusis Women's Choir". Paid My Dues: Journal of Women and Music. II (3): 8–10. 
  26. ^ "Eurydice". Chester Biscardi, Composer. Retrieved 26 June 2014. 
  27. ^ Gunden, Heidi von (1999). The music of Vivian Fine. Lanham, Md. [u.a.]: Scarecrow Press. p. 111. ISBN 978-0810836174. 
  28. ^ "Compositions". Patsy Rogers. Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  29. ^ Henning, Pat (June 1982). "Anna Crusis: Upbeat music with a message". The Mt. Airy Express. 2 (6). East and West Mt. Airy Neighbors Association. 
  30. ^ Webster, Daniel (June 1, 1990). "Local choruses offer wide-ranging concerts". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  31. ^ a b Sherman, Helen (Spring 1998). "Singer's Column: No one has imagined us!". The Voice of Chorus America. 21 (3): 10. 
  32. ^ a b "Women's Voices -- Women's Strength". Rhythm & News (Spring). Anna Crusis Women's Choir. 1994. 
  33. ^ Escovitz, Karen (November 1994). "New Music Premieres: Anna Crusis performs new work by local composer". Labyrinth: The Philadelphia Women's Newspaper. 
  34. ^ "Anna Crusis celebrates its 25th anniversary". Au Courant. 4 (36). May 30, 2000. 
  35. ^ "Finding Her Here". Independent Music Publishers Cooperative. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  36. ^ a b c d Hulting, Jane (11 May 2005). "Anna Crusis Women's Choir – Philadelphia". ChoralNet. Retrieved 26 June 2014. 
  37. ^ Szymko, Joan. "Finding Her Here" (PDF). Retrieved 26 June 2014. 
  38. ^ Clearfield, Andrea. "Shape of My Soul" (PDF). Retrieved 26 June 2014. 
  39. ^ "21st Century Opera and Musical Theatre HILLIARD and BORESI". Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  40. ^ a b c "Live music and more, tonight through Thursday". The Philadelphia Inquirer. May 1, 2009. Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  41. ^ "Into the Light —2008". Robert Maggio. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  42. ^ Folio, Cynthia. "Compositions". Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  43. ^ "Reclaiming the "F" Word: Oldest existing feminist choir to perform this weekend at International House". West Philly Local. 4 June 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  44. ^ "Press Kit". Anna Crusis Women's Choir. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  45. ^ Davidson, Miriam. "Stand UP! Sing OUT! Anna Crusis Women's Choir". ChoralNet. American Choral Directors Association. Retrieved 28 December 2014. 
  46. ^ Davidson, Miriam (3 December 2013). "Anna Crusis Women's Choir presents "Hungry for Justice"". ChoralNet: American Choral Director's Association. Retrieved 10 June 2014. 
  47. ^ Rowe, James (27 Nov 2012). "Anna Crusis Women's Choir Presents Simply Love: A Marriage Equality Event". Believe Out Loud. 
  48. ^ "Anna Crusis Women's Choir Fall Concert at the Unitarian Society" (PDF). Germantown Newspapers. October 25, 2012. Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  49. ^ Nichols, Larry (December 2011). "Choir to open new season with special concert". Philadelphia Gay News. Retrieved 10 June 2014. 
  50. ^ Lane, John (9 June 2010). "Notes on Music". Weekly Press (Philadelphia). Retrieved 26 June 2014. 
  51. ^ "Anna Crusis Choir at USG" (PDF). The Mt. Airy Independent. November 12, 2009. Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  52. ^ Dickman, Alison (May 13–19, 2005). "Anna Crusis celebrates 30". Philadelphia Gay News (PGN). 29 (19). 
  53. ^ "Anna Crusis Choir to sing at Methodist Church". Chestnut Hill Local. November 11, 1999. p. 17. 
  54. ^ Sherman, Helen (December 1998 – February 1999). "No One Has Imagined Us". GalaGRAM. XI (4): 7, 10. 
  55. ^ Zimmerman, Bonnie; Haggerty, George, eds. (2000). Encyclopedia of lesbian and gay histories and cultures. New York: Garland. p. 295. ISBN 978-0815333548. Retrieved 26 June 2014. 
  56. ^ Clark, Vernon (August 18, 2009). "Shaping W. Mt. Airy, one house at a time Twin sisters' vision led to a national model". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  57. ^ Raymond, Alan; Raymond, Susan. "The Congregation: About the Film". PBS. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  58. ^ "2012 Themis Award: Call for Nominations". 24 February 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  59. ^ Moore, Alexis (October 15, 1988). "Poet, Singer And Local Women To Be Honored". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  60. ^ "Best of Philly," Philadelphia Magazine. August, 1990.
  61. ^ "NEA Award for collaborative concert with The Philadelphia Singers". Sister Cities Girlchoir. 17 April 2014. Retrieved 10 June 2014. 

External links[edit]