Sunday, March 21, 2004

MUSE promotes unity, social change with its music

By Margaret A. McGurk
The Cincinnati Enquirer

In 1984, Catherine Roma was beginning her doctoral studies at the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music.

At the same time, she was launching a choir that would grow into a Cincinnati institution with a national reputation.

Since its earliest days, MUSE Cincinnati Women's Choir has shared its message of unity and social change through musical experiences crafted out of inspiration and a devotion to excellence.

With a core of fiercely devoted volunteers and singers, the choir turns its modest budget into extraordinary achievements, including a distinguished library of commissioned original works

MUSE received $6,000 from the Fine Arts Fund for the 2003-2004 season, not quite six percent of its $105,000 budget. The group also receives funding from the Ohio Arts Council, City of Cincinnati and Community Shares, as well as contributions.

May 14-16, the choir will perform with Cincinnati Pops Orchestra.

Its most exciting project this year is the 10th edition of its New Spirituals Concert, June 25-27, featuring a newly commissioned original work by a woman Roma describes as "my mentor," Bernice Johnson Reagon, formerly of Sweet Honey in the Rock. The performance at Allen Temple A.M.E. at Jordan's Crossing in Bond Hill will include Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir. On the choir's wish list is a July 17-24 trip to the GALA Festival in Montreal.



The 2004 Fine Arts Fund campaign continues through April 30 with a goal of $10.3 million. The 55th annual campaign provides operating funds to members: Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati Ballet, Cincinnati Opera, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Contemporary Arts Center, May Festival and Taft Museum of Art as well as smaller grants to associate members and project grants to small Tristate arts organizations. The Enquirer will be highlighting recipient organizations during the 10 weeks of the campaign.

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