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CWO LogoCommunity Women’s Orchestra
P.O. Box 30924
Oakland, CA 94604

Phone: (510) 463-0313

Email: info@communitywomensorchestra.org

Website: http://www.communitywomensorchestra.org

Fact Sheet

Guest Conductor: Emily Ray

Orchestra President: Lisa Raber (cello)

Orchestra Vice-Presidents: Linda Kay (viola), Sandra Regan (viola)

Concertmaster: Katie Deeg

Membership: 68 members

Repertoire: Classical and contemporary instrumental music with a focus on female composers

Annual Schedule: 3 concerts / 1 fundraiser chamber music event / outreach & collaborative appearances

Estimated audience (2008-2009): 7,500

Founded: February 1985; 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization




3/21/2013 – CWO was featured in CBS SF Bay Area’s “Best Of” series as one of the bay’s “Best Local Female Musicians!” – LINK

5/15/2010 – CWO celebrated its 25th anniversary season with a concert featuring four female conductors in an all-female-composer program. The concert took place on Saturday, May 15, 2010, 4:00 pm, at Lake Merritt United Methodist Church. CWO was honored by Ronald V. Dellums, the Mayor of Oakland, proclaiming Saturday, May 15, 2010 Community Women’s Orchestra Day celebrating the orchestra’s 25-year history.

Mayoral Proclaimation

On occasion of its 25th anniversary season CWO also received a resolution from the California Senate commending the orchestra’s many achievements and impact on the local community.

California Senate Resolution

Read about CWO in the Montclarion! – 3/5/10

Letter from Joan Falletta

Best wishes from Joan Falletta, Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. Joan served as conductor of The Women’s Philharmonic, CWO’s precursor, 1987-1997.

I am delighted to send all of you my warmest wishes as you celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Community Women’s Orchestra.   The Orchestra has been a very special and beloved partner to our Women’s Philharmonic, helping us explore new scores and prepare them for performance and recording.  I will always be deeply grateful to the CWO for their invaluable assistance and enthusiasm, for believing in new, unknown or unusual repertoire, and for being such a vibrant asset to the community.  I am sending special thanks to my colleagues and wonderful friends Nan Washburn and Ann Krinitsky- both extraordinary conductors and visionary musicians, who have been tremendous forces in the exploration and discovery of music by women- both past and present.

I remember very clearly our excitement over the “world premier” of Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’s Overture.  Our board member Judith Rosen somehow- through charm, force and passion- convinced the Berlin library to part with this treasure and allow us to perform it.  Nan, Terrie Baune and many others worked with love and tireless dedication to bring this piece to life, and I will always be proud that it is now part of the repertoire because of the incredible team of the Women’s Philharmonic and the Community Women’s Orchestra.

Congratulations to Dr. McGuire, to Yuchi Chou, to Nan Washburn, to Ann Krinitsky, to Shoshana Kay, to Hilary Tann and to Gwyneth Walker for this incredible program marking your 25th anniversary!  What a great evening of superb composers and wonderful performers- I am sorry that I cannot be there in person but I am sending you my warmest wishes and many many thanks for all you have done and continue to do for women in music!

JoAnn Falletta, May 12, 2010



Four female composers. Four female conductors. A concert you don’t want to miss.

MARCH 23, 2010 – The Community Women’s Orchestra (CWO), founded in 1985 as an adjunct to the Women’s Philharmonic, will celebrate its 25th anniversary in a stellar program featuring four female conductors in an all-female-composer program. The concert will take place on Saturday, May 15, 2010, 4:00 p.m., at Lake Merritt United Methodist Church in Oakland. Prior to the concert, a pre-concert discussion at 3:15 p.m. will be led by the four conductors and composer Hilary Tann.

The unique concert program includes the world premiere of Reibo written especially for the orchestra’s 25th anniversary by composer Hilary Tann. Also included on the program are Overture in C by Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, An American Concerto for Violin and Orchestra by Gwyneth Walker featuring violinist Shoshona Kay, and Overture to The Wreckers by Dame Ethel Smyth. Two of CWO’s former conductors, Nan Washburn (1985-1990) and Ann Krinitsky (1990-2001), are guest conductors on the program, joining CWO’s current conductor Kathleen McGuire and assistant conductor Yuchi Chou.

CWO has commissioned new works by women composers in each concert of its 25th season; this final concert of the season features Reibo – a tone poem by award-winning Welsh-born composer Hilary Tann. The word “reibo” appears in the titles of many solo pieces for the Japanese shakuhachi (bamboo flute).  ”Rei” means “bell” and “bo” means “yearning,” so a rough translation is “Yearning for the Bell.” “The bell sounds throughout the piece, signifying journey, prayer, and meditation. It’s uplifting, with some truly gorgeous moments,” said McGuire, “The orchestra loves playing this piece.”

“The concerto on the program, by Gwyneth Walker, is an absolute show stopper,” added McGuire. “It is highly accessible and includes jazzy rock rhythms, nods to the Americana style of Aaron Copland, and is topped off with a flashy violin solo.” Guest soloist Shoshona Kay literally grew up playing with the CWO and the Berkeley Youth Symphony. She is now a professional violinist completing grad school in Indiana. Her mother, Linda, plays viola in the CWO and serves as president of the board. “With former conductors and former players coming back for this concert, it’s a real family affair,” said Linda.

Also on the program are works by two of the best known women composers of all time: Felix’s younger sister Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, and militant feminist suffragette Dame Ethel Smyth. Smyth’s Overture to The Wreckers is from one of six operas she penned. Its sweeping, patriotic themes are reminiscent of British compatriot Edward Elgar. Fanny’s overture is one of the most familiar on the program. It was reconstructed by JoAnn Faletta, who previously conducted the Women’s Philharmonic. Only a couple of Fanny’s orchestral works remain today, but it is believed that some compositions attributed to Felix may actually have been composed by Fanny.

The Community Women’s Orchestra is an all volunteer, all female orchestra based in Oakland, California, that strives to bring more exposure to the works of historic and contemporary women composers. CWO provides a unique opportunity for women musicians to perform seldom-heard works by women composers, as well as other well-known pieces, while giving Bay Area audiences a rare opportunity to attend performances of those works. For more information, visit: www.communitywomensorchestra.org


Community Women’s Orchestra

25th Anniversary Concert

Dr. Kathleen McGuire, Conductor

Saturday, May 15, 2010 – 4 pm

Pre-concert talk 3:15 pm

Lake Merritt United Methodist Church

1330 Lakeshore Avenue, Oakland CA

Admission: $10. Children under 12 free. $5 Seniors (60+), students, unemployed.

Media inquiries: contact board president Linda Kay, itune88@comcast.net, ph: 510-910-0283



Concert features world premiere by Oakland composer Mary Watkins,

works by Copland and Dvořák, and special guests VOICES Lesbian Choral Ensemble

The Oakland-based Community Women’s Orchestra (CWO), celebrating its 25th season, will present a program on the eve of International Women’s Day.  The concert will take place on Sunday, March 7, 2010, 4:30 pm, at Lake Merritt United Methodist Church. The program includes the world premiere of Parade, written especially for the orchestra’s 25th anniversary, by renowned Bay Area pianist and composer, Mary Watkins. Also included on the program are Copland’s Clarinet Concerto, Dvořák’s Czech Suite, and special guests VOICES Lesbian Choral Ensemble.

CWO has commissioned new works by women composers in each concert in its 25th season; this concert features Parade by Mary Watkins. Watkins is an award winning composer with an impressive portfolio that includes works for film, opera, jazz ensembles and dance. Trained in both jazz and classical traditions, she often incorporates various styles of music into her work. Watkins will speak about her music at the concert.

Mary Watkins, composer

Mary Watkins, composer

CWO clarinetist and Berkeley resident, Karen Fisher, is the soloist in Copland’s Clarinet Concerto. The Concerto was originally commissioned by jazz great Benny Goodman in 1947 and would later be choreographed by Jerome Robbins for the ballet, Pied Piper (1951).

Also on the program is Dvořák’s delightful Czech Suite. Although less well known today than his Slavonic Dances, the Czech Suite is equally filled with soaring melodies and sparkling orchestration.

Joining CWO for the first time as special guests is VOICES Lesbian Choral Ensemble, directed by Jessica Bejarano. VOICES, also based in Oakland, was founded in 1988 and is dedicated to promoting lesbian visibility and musical excellence through the beauty of song. VOICES strives to reflect the diversity of women in the community and its members are dedicated to creating social change through their music.

The Community Women’s Orchestra was founded in 1985 as an adjunct to The Women’s Philharmonic. The 60-piece orchestra is devoted to providing opportunities for women in music, including composers, conductors, and instrumentalists.

Tickets to the INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY CONCERT at Lake Merritt United Methodist Church, 1330 Lakeshore Avenue, Oakland, are $10 at the door, or free for children under 12. The concert begins at 4:30 PM, Sunday, March 7th. More information is available at: www.communitywomensorchestra.org.

“A reception and benefit drawing will follow the concert. It will be an afternoon of beautiful music celebrating women as we make music, both new and traditional,” promised CWO conductor Dr. Kathleen McGuire.


For more information and photography, please contact: Susana England, Ph: 510-658-9473, susengland@aol.com or Karen Fisher, Ph: 415-613-7210; kfisher@qualcomm.com

Calendar Listing

Community Women’s Orchestra presents INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY CONCERT

Dr. Kathleen McGuire, conductor; Yuchi Chou, assistant conductor

SUNDAY, MARCH 7, 2010, 4:30 PM

Lake Merritt United Methodist Church

1330 Lakeshore Ave, Oakland

Tickets $10; children under 12 free, half price for seniors (60+), students, and unemployed, www.communitywomensorchestra.org

CWO Family Concert Review – Maureen Bogues

The Community Women’s Orchestra kicked off its 25th anniversary season with a roar on Sunday November 8, 2009.

Its family concert and instrument zoo drew a capacity crowd of 200 to the Lake Merritt United Methodist Church in Oakland. Moms, dads, kids and grandparents in attendance heard Martha Stoddard’s “Orchestral Suite for the Young of All Ages,” June Bonacich’s “Rumplestiltskin” suite, plus witty fare from Haydn, and Beethoven with a youthful twist. Conductor Kathleen McGuire led the orchestra through a spirited performance in the program’s first half, providing commentary and a bit of music history along the way.

Stoddard’s delightful suite, a world premiere commissioned by the orchestra, moves from the pomp of a parade day through four more movements with playful titles such as “Hop-Skip-Jump” “Cowgirl Rondo,” and “Waltz for the Fun of It.”
Marking the 200th anniversary of the composer’s death was Haydn’s Symphony No. 45, the “Farewell,” a puckish classic written for a prince patron who kept the royal orchestra too long at his remote palace. Haydn’s response? In the fourth and final movement, the orchestra leaves section by section until just two violinists are left onstage. Uh, buh-bye! (The prince got the hint and let the orchestra go home soon after the performance.)
The women’s orchestra obviously had fun with this one, and the audience laughed along as the musicians started to walk out.

During intermission, children were encouraged to mosey through the “instrument zoo,” asking questions and trying out a bow, a fiddle or a harp. Dee Sanders explained to a couple of youngsters that her instrument, the bassoon, is considered the “clown” of the orchestra for its versatility of sounds. Trying it was off-limits, though, because of the delicate reeds and difficulty of playing. Susan Marvin showed off her three clarinets – bass, soprano and piccolo – calling them “mama bear, papa bear and baby bear.” A cellist who likes to go by the name Twirling Cello picked up her instrument and played it like a banjo, plunking out “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” for a couple of small admirers. She said she enjoys the youthful visitors.
“Kids are a lively audience and they appreciate musical humor,” she said. “I’ve been at performances when the [adult) audience didn’t laugh but the kids did. They’re not jaded yet.”

Assistant conductor Yuchi Chou took the podium for the second half of the program, kicking it off with her arrangement of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” accompanied by a crew of about 20 youngsters from Berkeley schools on song flutes – similar to recorders, but smaller – playing the familiar theme. The youngsters, some of whom looked to be as young as 5, played like pros; they stayed focused and hit all the right notes.

Betty Sullivan, founder of Betty’s List, the popular online information service for the LGBT community, was guest narrator for Bonacich’s charming “Rumplestiltskin,” a six-part suite that told the familiar fairy tale about the strange little man who spun straw into gold. Sullivan is also the sponsor for the orchestra’s 25th anniversary season. “This orchestra provides opportunities for women from all walks of life to perform together in community,” she said, a cause she likes to support.

Some of the young visitors to the concert are already developing opinions about the music and the experience. “I liked the conductor (Chou) who had the ponytail,” said Eliana Halperin, 4. Her cousin, Mara Halpern, 7, performed on the song flute for “Ode to Joy,” and corrected a reporter who called her instrument a “recorder.” “It’s a song flute,” Halpern said, noting that the smaller instrument was used because “it was a bunch of people’s first time and it’s easier to play.”

Tara Sola, 11, and Hannah Konkel, 11, both said they were fans of the “Rumplestiltskin” suite, as was Ethan Lathan, 11, a violinist who performed in a pre-show recital. “The music did a really good job of telling the story,” Sola said.

The Community Women’s Orchestra continues its 25th anniversary season with concerts in March and May that also feature commissioned works. Information available at www.communitywomensorchestra.org.


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