After serving as guests at two of the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus concerts over the last year, the new Atlanta Women’s Chorus is finally ready for its own solo show. Their “Finding Her Here: In and Out of Love” is set for Feb. 8.
Dr. Melissa T. Arasi is the AWC conductor. She was hired by the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus at the end of 2012 to lead AWC, at the time called the Atlanta Women’s Project. Once in place, she worked with the AGMC staff to gauge interest and see how the community would respond to the project to see “if there was a need for it among women to sing,” she recalls.
After positive responses, the AGMC board decided to move forward with a full organization and call it AWC, under the banner of its new Voices of Note division.
Prior to that, Arasi taught high school chorus for 14 years and performed as a singer at local weddings and church events. She helped start the women’s chorus at Georgia Tech and was looking for something similar. Her full-time job is as the supervisor of performing arts at Cobb County School District.
After several auditions, the chorus includes now close to 50 women and is split evenly between heterosexual and lesbian singers, says Arasi, who is straight.
“I think we are opening doorways that might not be reached if it was just a lesbian chorus,” she says.
Once assembled, the women’s chorus first performed with the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus last year at April’s Stephen Schwarz/”Wicked” event and at the AGMC holiday show in December.
“Finding Her Here: In and Out of Love” looks at love from a woman’s experience, timed to coincide around Valentine’s Day. The first half is about romantic love, the “can’t live without someone, getting cheated on, your heart breaks,” kind, says Arasi, while the second half is more about a universal love, love for one’s neighbor, one’s fellow man and one’s self.
The numbers range from Broadway medleys to Dante, from songs such as “Your Cheating Heart,” “I Can’t Make You Leave Me” and “When Will I Be Loved?” The AWC’s second show, “Mother, Daughter, Sister: Celebrating Music for Women,” will bow in June.
Arasi feels the start of AWC is timely in a new era of music for female voices. “Everyone loves men’s voices,” she says. “Women’s voices don’t always have the same draw. Music that is written for women can be flowery; that is the majority of things out there for women to sing. That’s been changing over the course of the last eight years. Much more interesting repertoires have been developed for women. It’s been a little more challenging and engaging to audiences.”
Having the AWC around also fills a local void. “In Atlanta there is nothing for just a women’s chorus; there has been nothing for a while,” Arasi says.
“There are girl groups but not for women. I’ve had some high school girls want to be in the choir and we want a bit older, college and older; it’s a different sound and approach. There is a great need for women’s voices to be heard and this partnership is what that is about.”
Atlanta Women’s Chorus
“Finding Her Here: In and Out of Love”
Feb. 8, 8 p.m
North Druid Presbyterian Church