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Hoboken Cantigas Women’s Choir to Perform May 19th at 7:30pm

HOBOKEN CHOIR CELEBRATES 10TH ANNIVERSARY

WITH LANDMARK CONCERT

Cantigas Women’s Choir Presents Passport to Spring on May 19 at 7:30 p.m.

Hoboken’s all-women community chorus, Cantigas Women’s Choir, presents its landmark tenth anniversary spring concert titled PASSPORT TO SPRING on Saturday, May 19, at 7:30 p.m. at St. Matthew Trinity Church (57 Eighth Street at Hudson Street) in Hoboken, N.J. The suggested donation for the concert is $15 ($5 for seniors and students).

“The image of a women’s choir is usually rows of sweet ladies in straight lines singing, perhaps patriotic or parlor songs, but this is hardly Cantigas Women’s Choir,” Director Joan Litman says. “We are forty voices strong and span decades of generations! We sing everything from classic to contemporary choral music — from Greek folkloric songs and Sephardic Lullabies to African-American field yells.”

The concert features Eric Whitacre’s Five Hebrew Love Songs with Cantigas’ Jessica Laurel Smith as a soloist, a melodic “Gentle Breezes, Softly Blow” from Johann Strauss II’s Tales from the Vienna Woods, and a 15th century Spanish song, a cantiga, from which the group’s title is derived. Litman also brings a personal touch with two Arabic songs she collected while living in Damascus, Syria, last year. Cantigas’ Assistant Director Erasmia Voukelatos also brings her Greek heritage to the group with two Greek songs she transcribed.

Passport to Spring is an accumulation of a decade of Cantigas’ presence in the Hoboken community. “What is great about this year is that we’ve developed our own sound — it’s vibrant and unique. We’ve performed locally as well as on the road — everywhere from Philadelphia to New York City — even though we are a group of local women. And in June, we’ll host an Argentine choir for a performance at the United Nations International School. It’s our tenth anniversary and we’re going strong!”

Next month, Cantigas will host the Coral Femenino de Caballito from Buenos Aires, Argentina. The group’s director, Leonardo San Juan, traveled to Hoboken in 2010 to guest conduct Cantigas in the North American premiere of his original work, Magnificat. The two groups will join together for a concert at the United Nations International School in New York City on June 16.

Cantigas Women’s Choir, named after a medieval Spanish song form called a “cantiga,” is composed of 40 women of varying ages and backgrounds and brings women of the community together to explore the rich tradition of women’s singing. The group performs a broad spectrum of global music and advocates through song for those whose hearts need to be uplifted and whose voices need to be heard, performing regularly with the inmates of the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in Clinton, N.J., as well as at other community events like the Cancer Survivors Support Network in Bayonne, New Jersey, and the Empty Bowls hunger relief benefit in Hoboken.

Joan Isaacs Litman is the founding Artistic Director of Cantigas Women’s Choir. She is a native of Los Angeles and has taught students and teachers in the New York City area for 32 years. Ms. Litman is a member of the music faculty of the United Nations International School in Manhattan where she directs the UNIS Mothers’ Chorus and a children’s choir. She is a founder and former music teacher at Mustard Seed School and also taught at The Hudson School in Hoboken. With a longing to stimulate curiosity, trust and enjoyment of often-misunderstood cultures, Ms. Litman has focused her musical research on the Middle East, which she shares with teachers in cultural context. Ms. Litman is the author of Song Caravan: Songs of the Middle East. Ms. Litman has enjoyed teaching (and learning from!) both students and teachers throughout the United States and abroad, most recently in Spain, Syria, Lebanon, Japan and Hong Kong.

Assistant director Erasmia Voukelatos is a Canadian of Greek descent and has been active as a chamber musician and solo pianist, teacher, music director, and concert series presenter. Concerto appearances include Mozart Concerto in A Major and Haydn Concerto in D Major with the Canadian ensemble Mercredi Musique and Bach’s keyboard Concerto in D Minor, which was released on The Best of Brooklyn CD. She currently teaches piano and elementary and is on the music faculty at the Far Brook School in Short Hills, NJ. She enjoys collaborating with her husband, violinist Ashley Horne, and together they founded My Music Garden, a music enrichment program for schools. Voukelatos has been with Cantigas since its formation.

 Cantigas Official Web Site: www.cantigas.net

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