President's Welcome

Dear Alumnae and Friends,

My name is Sara Birmingham and I am thrilled to be the Chorus President for 2013-2014. I am a rising junior from State College, PA and I am double majoring in English and Linguistics.

2013 has been nothing short of a whirlwind for the Chorus, and arguably our busiest year of all time. I couldn’t be more proud of our members for their dedication and positive attitude as we tackled so many pieces and performances.

This fall we selected an amazing group of new women, who have already proven themselves as valuable musical and organizational members. At our Twilight concert, we debuted our annual “No Whining, No Flowers” commission—this year, composer and Cornell faculty member Kay Rhie gave us Kassia’s Hymn, a challenging modern piece based on a traditional orthodox chant. We also were lucky to debut another piece by Cornell composer Niccolo Athens, Three Illuminations. Later in the semester, we also tackled Haydn’s Harmoniemesse with the Glee Club and the Cornell Chamber Orchestra, as part of a larger Haydn conference in honor of Jim Webster. And of course, the Christmas Vespers closed off the semester with a packed Sage Chapel.

The spring brought even more challenges and opportunities for the Chorus. In February, the Chorus traveled to Harvard University to participate in their Treble Festival. We were able to spend the weekend representing Cornell and experiencing many types of women’s choirs.

In early March, the Chorus tackled Susan Botti’s Cosmosis, an incredibly difficult piece about a spider in space, that also featured the Cornell Wind Ensemble and Botti herself as the soprano soloist.

Just two weeks later, we embarked on our Northeast Tour, visiting cities like Boston, NYC, and DC. We were able to see an amazing amount of alumnae in our travels, which made the experience all the more valuable for our members. We also launched our Centennial Endowment Drive, and are aiming to raise our endowment to $1 million by 2021. Though this is a daunting task and we have a long way to go, the positive feedback from the drive’s kickoff is very encouraging for us all.

When we returned, we plunged headfirst into Schubert’s Mass no. 4 in C major and Poulenc’s Litanies à la Vierge Noire, both with the wonderful Cayuga Chamber Orchestra. The Schubert also featured the Glee Club, and the Poulenc featured University Organist Annette Richards. The many collaborations made for a memorable and very popular concert.

A week later, the Chorus and Glee Club were featured in a Jazz Festival with a highly talented group of musicians to present Wolfgang Knittel’s Jazz Mass. The lyrics were truly unforgettable, often bizarre, and the music was a different and fun experience for all of us.

Finally, we had to send off our truly fantastic seniors with the Senior Week concert, featuring favorite Chorus pieces from the year. We wish the Class of 2013 all the best as they leave the Hill (and can’t wait to see them back soon).

Also graduating from the Chorus, in a sense, is our Interim Director, John Rowehl. John has been a source of musicality, patience, and inspiration during this hectic year. The Chorus has been incredibly blessed to work under his direction this year, and we wish him all the best.

With this crazy year under our belts, I am even more excited for what the next year brings. In light of our Endowment Drive and transition to our new director, Robert Isaacs, it is a joy to have such supportive and devoted alumnae. Thank you for your continued support and love, and as always, don’t hesitate to get in touch at I wish you all a lovely summer, and am looking forward to seeing many of you for Reunions Weekend!


Sara Birmingham