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Preview: UNI Women’s Chorus reunion

SARAH RITONDALE, Staff Writer

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UNI’s School of Music will be hosting a reunion and 130th anniversary celebration and reunion of the Women’s Chorus on Friday, Oct. 12 and Saturday, Oct. 13.

About 20 to 30 alumni—some who graduated over 50 years ago—will be returning to perform with the current members of the Women’s Chorus.

“We have people coming back, the earliest graduated in the 50s and then up until people who graduated last year, which is awesome,” said Amy Kotsonis, assistant professor of choral ensembles and music education.

The Women’s Chorus was founded in 1888 and is the oldest ensemble on campus, both instrumentally and chorally.

The School of Music decided that the 130-year anniversary would be a good time to celebrate how long the women’s chorus has been around, since it dates back to when UNI was the Iowa State Teachers College.

“For this particular ensemble, the history is so rich and the woman that started this, Julia Curtis, started a bunch of the ensembles on campus and was one of the first music professors here,” Kotsonis said. “It used to be called the ‘Sicilian Glee Club,’ and then around the 40s, they changed the name to ‘Women’s Chorus.’ So, it started with 16; we have about 75 on average each semester.”

Today, most women in the chorus are non-music majors. Kotsonis said she loves that these women are choosing to have the chorus in their lives despite it not being required.

Kotsonis said she is curious to hear the stories of the returning alumni and why they have chosen to come back. She hopes that the women currently in the chorus and alumni alike have an enjoyable experience.

“There [were] a lot of different directors over the last 20 or 30 years, so it was a chance for us to pull all these people back that had been here—at all these different times and had different directors—to come back and connect with the current group, and just celebrate the history of the group and make connections with our current students,” Kotsonis said.

Some of the returning alumni are local, but others are traveling across the state and the country to spend the weekend with the chorus. They will perform on Saturday night as well as tour campus, attend rehearsals and  enjoy a banquet dinner.

Women returning all have different experiences, Kotsonis said, and she looks forward to connecting the alumni with  current students.

“There’s a woman who did some traveling back when they had world’s fairs,” Kotsonis said. “There was one in New Orleans, and the Women’s Chorus went down and performed, which is a big deal to be invited. There is a woman that was on that trip, and so she’s coming back, and she sent some pictures.”

The Women’s Chorus 130th Anniversary Reunion performance will be taking place at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 13 in the Great Hall of the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center. The concert will begin with current members, with alumni joining for the last four songs.

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Preview: UNI Women’s Chorus reunion