Anna Crusis Women's Choir

Last updated
Anna Crusis Women's Choir, "Stand UP! Sing OUT!", December 7, 2014 Anna Crusis Womens Choir 2014-12-07 DSCF0913 Crop.jpg
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 Anna Crusis 1980 June 14 poster Gale B. Russo.jpg
Anna Crusis Women's Choir, poster by Gale B. Russo for June 14, 1980 Concert
External video
Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg Anna Crusis Women's Choir, I Ain't Afraid, with Holly Near, 2017
Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg 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]

Anna Crusis Women's Choir members voted to change the name of the choir to Anna Crusis Feminist Choir. This name change reflects a commitment to gender-expansive membership while also honoring our history and core values.

Politics and Process

Signer James Rowe applauds, December 7, 2014 Signer James Rowe 2014-12-07 DSCF0926 crop.jpg
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

Catherine Roma, 1975-1983

External video
Anna Crusis Catherine Roma June 6-7 2015 40th Anniversary concert.jpg
Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg 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 degrees in music (BA) and choral conducting (MM) 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, 19832005, sabbatical 2003

Jane Hulting, 2015 Anna Crusis Jane Hulting June 6-7 2015 40th Anniversary concert.jpg
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

External video
Anna Crusis Jacqueline Coren June 6-7 2015 40th Anniversary concert.jpg
Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg 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

External video
Conductor Miriam Davidson 2014-12-07 DSCF0928 Crop.jpg
Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg 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.


Works commissioned

Main Concerts / themes / guest artists

Anna Crusis Women's Choir, poster with Pete Seeger and Reggie Harris for January 27, 1995, concert Anna Crusis 1995 concert flyer People's Music Pete Seeger 001.jpg
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

Jacqueline Coren

Jane Hulting

Catherine Roma

The Themis Award

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

Related Research Articles

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