VOX is committed to building bridges. The organization has gone to significant lengths to expand its horizons musically and to build its audience while educating the community on women’s issues and gay and lesbian issues.
In 2010 and 2011 Vox partnered with CONTRA-TIEMPO Urban Latin Dance Theater to conduct five free, public workshops in Montebello, Pasadena, Lawndale and Culver City. They focused on using voice and body as a path to joy, personal expression, and communication with each other. While anyone could attend, the primary focus was on children.
“Those of us who grew up with arts instruction in our schools know first-hand the important lessons to be learned from participating in the arts,” says Dr. Iris S. Levine, Vox’s Artistic Director. Adds Ana Maria Alvarez, Artistic Director of CONTRA-TIEMPO, “The experience can give children, especially those in underserved areas, a constructive way to deal with the very big issues they face.” Almost in unison, these two artists and educators point out that these workshops are especially critical now given the budget cuts for arts programs in public schools.
From what we heard, it seems the children agreed:
- This was more fun than I expected because we were included.
- Before this I would never have danced with someone I didn't know.
- Dancing--sign me up!
- CT and Vox expanded my horizons.
- I want to grow up to be you guys. You are amazing dancers and singers.
In 2008, VOX went on its first international tour to Mexico. In Mexico City, Vox performed in concert with six women from Coro Karities , a two-year-old women’s chorus and one of two in all of Mexico. Performing Siyahamba together in Swahili, English and Spanish in the historic Palacio Arzobispado embodied the inclusive nature of the entire tour. The tour highlight for the women was the afternoon spent with the girls at the Casa Hogar Santa Julia orphanage outside of San Miguel de Allende. The four nuns who run the orphanage are truly miracle workers. They take girls (and some boys) who arrive from poor, and often abusive, conditions and shower them with love, provide medical care, oversee their education and after-school activities, and enable them to envision a future of their dreams. And, they accomplish this without financial assistance from the church or the state; they survive strictly on contributions from individuals and groups. VOX shared the stage in San Miguel with the newly-formed chorus from Santa Julia, which warmed the hearts of both the women of VOX and the people of San Miguel.
In 2005, VOX welcomed the internationally renowned Albert McNeil Jubilee Singers in the production of JUBILEE AND SONG, a concert celebrating music from the African American choral tradition. Once again, as in our 1999 FREEDOM TO SING concert, VOX built bridges to the African American community in Los Angeles. At the same time, by engaging a premier ensemble known for keeping the legacy of the traditional spiritual alive throughout the world, VOX helped to educate the audience and carry on the musical legacy of African American choral music.
In 2004, VOX produced a full concert with the Los Angeles Women’s Shakespeare Company, integrating the words and music of Shakespeare in an innovative, entertaining concert. The educational outreach brought theatregoers in touch with Shakespearean text set to music and concertgoers in touch with the poetry of Shakespeare--from a women’s point of view.
In 2003, VOX produced CANTA PARA TODOS, a concert of Central and South American music that included world-renowned Jackeline Rago and the Snake Trio as guest artists. The educational outreach to the Hispanic community (more than 50% in Los Angeles) is another critical community building and educational activity for the organization.
IN 2001, VOX produced CELEBRATING WOMEN, CELEBRATING OUR DIVERSITY. This concert utilized poems chosen by VOX’s Artistic Director from LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Los Angeles youth describing their personal experiences and journeys. VOX commissioned 3 living composers to set these poems to music utilizing 3 distinct styles. It was entitled “The Tolerance Project,” and premiered in June 2002. This project allowed VOX to build bridges and create relationships with LGBT student groups. A free concert was given that was the first introduction to choral music for many of the students. The relationships built in 2002 continue to be utilized in developing additional educational outreach programs.
In 2000, VOX produced a concert entitled CELEBRATING WOMEN - SINGING FOR OUR LIVES. This project, featuring the West Coast premiere of "Where I Live" (an oratorio depicting the struggles of women with breast cancer), was performed in Westchester at no cost to the public - so that a "suggested donation" could be donated directly to Wendy's Hope, an organization that specializes in lesbians with cancer. This extraordinary concert not only provided excellence in music, but educated and empowered the audience as it related to issues of women and cancer.
VOX led the project FREEDOM TO SING in 1999. This project brought together a number of community groups to create and perform music targeting the African American community. “Let Freedom Sing: Songs of Liberation & Freedom” was the title, theme and purpose of a Gospel Music Workshop, and Concert produced by Vox Femina Los Angeles and Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles. The workshop was led by Gregg Payne, Artistic Director of Lavender Light: the Black and People of All Colors Lesbian and Gay Gospel Choir of New York. Lavender Light also joined VOX and GMCLA in performance. This was a significant event in beginning to build bridges to the African American community.