Empowerment Through Music

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The Chorus held its fourth annual Empowerment Through Music event on Saturday, March 9, 2019. The event featured Bishop Chantel Wright, a pastor, choral director and clinician, and gospel musician.

The Empowerment Through Music speaker series was formed for a number of reasons. Though the Chorus is first and foremost a musical ensemble, being student run, treble voice group that has struggled to achieve the level of university support and reputation of our brother group, the Glee Club, leaves us with a vested organizational interest in supporting women’s leadership projects. Fortunately, today we are lucky to overcome these organizational hurdles by learning from individuals such as Jeannette Perez-Rossello '91, our 2016 speaker, who is chair of the President’s Council of Cornell Women. And like many treble groups today, we are also extremely grateful to have the endless support of male allies, such as our friends in the Glee Club, who are our most steadfast supporters.

The Chorus was founded in 1920 as an auxiliary group to the Glee Club, for occasions when they wanted to sing mixed-voice repertoire. The Chorus has fought tirelessly to be able to sing at University events, perform at our own concerts, establish a student-run government, and publish recordings—and slowly, over time, they have succeeded. The Chorus is now a nationally and internationally recognized choir that tours domestically and internationally, is organizationally run by the efforts of a diverse group of student officers, is largely self-funded, and supports fellow women in the arts with our “No Whining, No Flowers” commissioning project. Our strong student-led government allows members of the Chorus to offer their experience and dedication to the pursuit of musical excellence while learning from each other, as well as generations of alumni who have contributed to the success of the organization.

We began this series not only to learn how we as student leaders can continue to progress our own organization, but also so that individuals across the Cornell community can have the opportunity to learn from some of Cornell’s brightest minds and most successful professionals.

Empowerment Through Music 2019: Bishop Chantel Wright

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Pastor Wright has been involved with music since the age of 3, beginning in the Sunbeam Choir. She opened the doors of Pneuma Ministries International Church in Harlem in 2010.

In addition to being a pastor, she also serves the world community through her gift of music. A graduate of VanderCook College of Music in Chicago, Illinois, Chantel is the founder and artistic director of Songs of Solomon: An Inspirational Ensemble, as well as a consultant for Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute, the Metropolitan Opera, New Jersey Performing Arts Center and the Center for Arts Education. In addition to the work that she does as a consultant, she is a member of the faculty at New York University in the Steinhardt School of Music and is a highly sought after choral clinician, nationally and internationally. She brings 25 years of choral music experience to the table.

Empowerment Through Music 2018: Caroline Shaw

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Caroline Adelaide Shaw is a New York-based musician—vocalist, violinist, composer, and producer—who performs in solo and collaborative projects. She is the youngest recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Music, for Partita for 8 Voices, written for the Grammy-winning Roomful of Teeth, of which she is a member. Recent commissions include new works for the Dover Quartet, the Calidore Quartet, the Aizuri Quartet, FLUX Quartet, Brooklyn Rider, Anne Sofie von Otter, The Crossing, Roomful of Teeth, yMusic, ACME, ICE, A Far Cry, Philharmonia Baroque, the Baltimore Symphony, and Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble Connect. In the 2017–18 season, Caroline’s new works will be premiered by Renée Fleming with Inon Barnatan, Dawn Upshaw with Sō Percussion and Gil Kalish, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s with John Lithgow, the Britten Sinfonietta, TENET with the Metropolis Ensemble, the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, the Netherlands Chamber Choir, and Luciana Souza with A Far Cry. Future seasons will include a new piano concerto for Jonathan Biss with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and a new work for the LA Phil. Caroline’s scoring of visual work includes the soundtrack for the feature film To Keep the Light as well as collaborations with Kanye West. She studied at Yale, Rice, and Princeton, and she has held residencies at Dumbarton Oaks, the Banff Centre, Music on Main, and the Vail Dance Festival. Caroline loves the color yellow, otters, Beethoven opus 74, Mozart opera, Kinhaven, the smell of rosemary, and the sound of a janky mandolin.

Empowerment Through Music 2017: Maggie Wheeler


Maggie Wheeler is best know in the U.S. and internationally for her work as an actress in film, television and voice-over and most notably as the character of Janice on NBC’s hit series Friends. She is also a singer/songwriter/choir director and workshop facilitator and has been teaching her vocal workshop "Singing In The Stream" in and out of Los Angeles for the past 20 years.

She co-founded The Golden Bridge Community Choir in Los Angeles, now in its 11th year, with the belief that the joy of singing is a universal birthright, and that together, regardless of musical background, we can help improve the world by joining our voices in song.
Maggie’s workshops provide the experience of creating interpersonal harmony and internal harmony through the powerful act of creating vocal harmony. Through the creation of song, harmony and rhythm, participants become inspired, energized and connected to one another. The physical act of singing together creates a sense of wellbeing that lasts way beyond the moment.

Empowerment Through Music 2016: Dr. Jeannette M. Perez-Rossello, MD

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Dr. Perez-Rossello is a Pediatric Radiologist at Children’s Hospital Boston and Assistant Professor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School. Her clinical focus is musculoskeletal imaging, and her primary research interest lies in the imaging evaluation of child abuse. 

Dr. Perez-Rossello holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biology and Society from Cornell University College of Human Ecology. She received her medical degree from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and completed her radiology and pediatric radiology fellowship at Harvard Medical School. She has served as Chair of the Child Abuse Committee of The Society for Pediatric Radiology.

As a Cornell alumna she serves as Chair of the Presidents Council of Cornell Women, member of the Human Ecology Alumni Board, member of the Cornell Council Administrative Board and  member of Quill & Dagger. She is married to Paul Hayre ’91 and has three children.

Empowerment Through Music 2015: Jan Rock Zubrow

Jan Rock Zubrow is one of Cornell’s many successful and influential female leaders. As a key leader on the Board of Trustees of Cornell University since joining the Board in 1998, Ms. Zubrow is currently the Chair of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees and recently chaired the Presidential Search Committee for Cornell’s thirteenth president, Elizabeth Garrett. Ms. Rock Zubrow also serves as co-chair of the Cornell Tech Task Force, which is responsible for overseeing the creation of Cornell’s new tech campus on Roosevelt Island in New York City. Previously, she served as Co-Chair of Cornell’s “Far Above” Capital Campaign. She is a member of the Board Membership, Finance and Academic Affairs committees. Ms. Rock Zubrow was a founding member of the President’s Council of Cornell Women (PCCW) and served as Chair of PCCW from 1997-1999.

Ms. Rock Zubrow is the incoming Chair of the Board for Women for Women International, an organization that provides female survivors of war with vocational and life skills through twelve month training programs. She also serves on the board of New Leaders for New Schools, an organization that trains educators to be transformational school principals, to bridge achievement gaps in inner city schools. She also heads non-profit organizations active in K-12 and high education and international development.

In 1998, Ms. Rock Zubrow founded MedCapital LLC, a venture capital firm that invests in early stage healthcare companies. She served as President until 2010.

Prior to founding MedCapital, Ms. Rock Zubrow was Vice President of Women’s Health at Johnson & Johnson and was responsible for expanding their two billion-dollar franchise in women’s pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and consumer products. Earlier in her career, Ms. Rock Zubrow managed significant consumer franchises at Tambrands, Inc. and the Procter and Gamble Company.

Ms. Rock Zubrow graduated from Cornell with a B.A. in Economics in 1977, and went on to receive her M.B.A. from Harvard.            

At the Empowerment Through Music event on March 6th, Jan Rock Zubrow gave incredible insight into her vast experience and success in the workforce. She offered informed advice to the audience about life, business and personal wellbeing. Her discussion about women’s empowerment and leadership was very well-received and inspired members of the Chorus as well as many other Cornellians who attended. The Chorus is extremely proud to have hosted such a successful event and we are excited for next year’s event in the Empowerment Through Music speaker series.