The MIT Women's Chorale

History

Since 1933, this musical organization, established at MIT by Willian Scatchard and supported by the Women's League, has given women in the MIT community an opportunity to sing together and has provided a cultural and social setting for making friends. The first singers were wives of MIT faculty, staff and students. An influx of new members joined in the 1940's; their husbands worked at the Radiation Lab housed at MIT during World War II. In 1951, the wives of Harvard faculty were invited to join, and in 1973 all women of the MIT and Harvard communities were welcomed to the group. The membership has always been international, representing more than 25 countries. While the music sung has been primarily original compositions for women's voices by such composers as Pergolesi, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Poulenc and Britten, the national and ethnic diversity of the Chorale has been reflected in a repertoire of folk songs sung in original languages. The Chorale boasts an impressive library of music, developed and catalogued over the years. Most of the Chorale's concerts have been at MIT, including performances at International Night. In addition, they have performed at Radcliffe's Hilles Library, the Fogg, the Gardner and the DeCordova Museums, Massachusetts General Hospital, nursing homes, retirement communities and area churches. In 1967, they were featured on Channel 5's "Dateline Boston" program.

Since its founding, the Chorale has had but six conductors. Mrs. Scatchard, the first director and founder, was with the group for 33 years, dividing her time each week between teaching music at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., and developing the Chorale at MIT. Mrs. Scatchard was succeeded by Katherine Bitter from 1965-1967. Lucille Ravven became conductor in 1968 and continued until 1980, except for spring, 1970, when Elaine Koloseike led the Chorale. From 1971 to 1980, the Chorale had two conductors: Nancy Kushlan Wanger became co-conductor with Lucille Ravven and together they prepared the Chorale for concerts which they conducted alternately. From 1980 to 2008, Nancy Kushlan Wanger was the sole conductor of the Chorale; Lucille Ravven remained devoted to the Chorale as Associate Conductor and artistic consultant until her death in 1987. With Nancy Kushlan Wanger's retirement from the Chorale in the summer of 2008, the Chorale's first male conductor, Kevin J.N. Galiè, J.D., M.M., took the baton.

The voices that have filled the Emma Rogers Room every Thursday night in rehearsal for over 75 years belong to women who have shared their gifts of song with each other and with the community.

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Contact us through the MIT Women's League:
617-253-3656 / wleague@mit.edu
Last updated September 10, 2012