If you can walk, you can dance. If you can talk, you can sing.
—A saying from Zimbabwe
About the TWC
We have been singing together since 2002 and currently are about 60 voices strong. We welcome more voices to join us!
Our mission as a chorus is to help women “find their voice,” and to extend the opportunity to singers and audience alike to explore music from around the world in our intentional effort to bring greater understanding of many cultures and traditions. Through understanding can come an experience of peace as we musically walk in another's shoes... however briefly.
Founder, Karleena Ravenwood
Karleena Ravenwood, the founder and director of the chorus, is a Natural Voice Practitioner trained in England. She sang in numerous community choruses including the Symphony Chorus in Portland, Oregon, the Adirondack Community Chorus, the Brattleboro Community Chorus and the Brattleboro Women’s Chorus in Vermont. She studied voice as well as viola, cello, classical guitar, Native American flutes, and African drum and frame drumming. She takes as her primary mentor Ysaye Barnwell of Sweet Honey In the Rock, who has shaped Karleena’s way of holding the chorus.
Karleena founded the Tucson Women’s Chorus in 2002 to help women “find their voice” in song. Karleena had to withdraw from conducting the chorus to begin cancer treatment in the fall of 2015, but continued to work behind the scenes until shortly before her death on August 1, 2016.
Artistic Director and Conductor, Catherine Shaw
Catherine was a new member of the chorus in the fall of 2015. About one month into the series, she offered to serve as twc’s new conductor when Karleena had to drop out due to her illness.
Catherine graduated from the Vassar College with a BA in Music in 2013. Her studies focused primarily on clarinet performance; she found plenty of singing opportunities as well.
Catherine can’t remember a time when music wasn’t part of her life; she grew up making all kinds of music with her family. For Catherine, music is spiritual outpouring of love and joy, and she hopes to share this love and joy with twc while continuing Karleena’s legacy.
After a year of conducting twc, she has settled into her new role, and she enjoys working women who do not see themselves as singers or performers and helping each of them find their voice.
Registration Fee & Scholarship
Registration fee for a series is $80/adult. Girls attend at no charge. Registration fee can be paid in installments (see Registrar). Members are responsible for the full (or adjusted) tuition once they commit to joining the chorus by attending two rehearsals (even if for some reason members drop out later during the series).
Scholarships are available for those in true need (as in -- “If I don’t have a scholarship, I cannot participate.”). We operate on the honor system and request that you ask for as little scholarship assistance as possible. We encourage everyone to make some contribution, no matter how small, in the spirit of appropriate energy exchange.
We ask all members to support the fundraising efforts of the membership for the Scholarship Fund so that no woman ever needs to be turned away due to lack of funds.
NOTE: There is ongoing registration available throughout the series. Newcomers are always welcome. We have a pro-rated registration fee for those who join after the first month of rehearsals
We welcome all singers!
Do not let funding issues discourage you from joining us. Financial assistance levels are shown on the registration form; all that is required is for you to indicate which level you require assistance. No questions or proof of need is required. At the present time, twnety percent of our members are receiving some level of financial assistance. We want your voice to be heard; so please come join us in song!
And finally, an inspirational quote from Karleena
"The Energy Space We Hold Together—Singing in harmony is wonderful training for living life. Singing in harmony asks you to hold your part in completeness while listening in conscious awareness to others. Disharmony grows from either too much or too little 'ego', let's call it. From either too much or too little sense of oneself. Either, from a sense of self-importance that disregards (doesn't listen) to others, or from so little sense of self that listening to others becomes blocked in the process of trying to find where one is. Both of these, too much or too little sense of self, result in disharmony in the midst of life.
"Harmony arises from holding your own space in conscious awareness and self-responsibility while staying in a willing state of awareness of life as it is around you. Singing in a chorus provides the opportunity to practice holding your part with the support of others singing your part with you. To grow in a harmonic sense of self, it is essential to have the support of others who can reflect back to you the part you have made an intention to hold. When you open yourself to that support, when you come into resonance with those close to you who reflect back to you your intentions in life (your part in the chorus), then it becomes easier to continue to hold your part in the midst of the seemingly complicated structure of the whole of life (the chorus) as it manifests itself in any given moment."
Tribute to Karleena Ravenwood
(Contributed by Becky Wilson)
Karleena Ravenwood founded the Tucson Women's Chorus (twc) in 2002 and continued as both musical and administrative director. She had to drop out to begin cancer treatment in the fall of 2015. Even so, she continued to work behind the scenes to support the new conductor and administrative coordinator until shortly before her death on August 1, 2016.
twc was Karleena’s passion; she put her heart and soul into “dreaming it into being” and building it into the well-known a cappella singing group for women that it is today.
From the beginning, Karleena shaped twc according to her personal vision. She wanted it to be a “grassroots chorus” for all women and girls wishing to sing, regardless of experience. Her mission was to help women “find their voice.” Indeed, over the last 13 years she has given that gift to so many women who have found more self-confidence, more support, more joy, more fun, more healing, and more food for the soul.
Karleena made a very difficult decision to retire from the chorus as we were preparing for our spring 2016 concert. I told Karleena that, in light of her retirement, I thought it was really important to acknowledge her at the beginning of our performance. However, knowing her as I did, I asked if she would write her own acknowledgement to make sure it told her story in the way she wanted. When she sent that story to me, she prefaced it with the following words:
In a way, having taken you up on your suggestion that I would write it myself, I feel attached to telling this little story in this particular way… in my own way… as my “swan song…” if you will. It offers to everyone more of who I am and what I have been for the chorus than any list of particulars. I hope you agree. Think of it as me singing a solo for my last concert. Writing it just now, I realized that it is indeed my last creative act for twc.
Karleena’s “last creative act for twc” was read on May 7, 2016 by one of our long time chorus members. It is, in my opinion, a love song to her beloved chorus and poetically describes her vision and philosophy. Read it and let it speak to you as it spoke so beautifully to all of us who performed that evening:
Every concert we give is special to us. The particular combination of songs, of languages, of cultures represented, of guest performers… and of the particular mix of singers who come together at one time to blend voices, hopes and dreams. We become, if you will, a band of singing angels whose hearts beat as one for the brief span of time that a concert takes.
During our circle-up time right before coming on stage, founder/director Karleena Ravenwood always reminds us that the impact of what we offer during the concert affects not just ourselves as singers and audience members, it also affects all who are touched by the energy we carry forth from our time together this evening. The waves of sound we set in motion have no endpoint — or so the physicists say.
If that’s true, then the effects of our voices tonight… of our songs… have the power to affect change in our world. This seems especially true when combined with conscious intent. Many chanting and singing communities around the world hold it to be so. Karleena asks us to each bring conscious intent to our singing… for some person or event or some dream we hold for the planet at large… the possible list is endless. Then we turn our intent as a whole towards someone in the chorus community that needs a special boost of singing love, and we dedicate our performance to that person.
Tonight that person is Karleena, herself. After thirteen years dreaming and working us into being, Karleena has had to retire due to her health. She was diagnosed in October 2015 with cancer. The months since then have been challenging to her and her family, as well as friends and everyone in the Tucson Women’s Chorus community. It became clear to her this spring that though she fully intends to stick around for years to come, it was time to practice yet another kind of letting go this time by letting go of the chorus. She has continued to support us from the sidelines and to help us to make the transition to whatever path we wish to take in the future.
She had hoped to be here tonight, but found that she had to let go of that as well.
There is much more we could say about Karleena… who she is, how she has impacted our lives, how we feel about her. But she asks that the concert tonight speak for her in its typical warp and woof of life that holds equally the silly and the profound. In our circle time, at the end she would always say, “Remember to have fun!”
That’s the message we are offering in this moment as we begin our concert: Remember to have fun!
Obituary for Karleena Ravenwood
Karleena Ravenwood née Caroline Kirby died peacefully on August 1, 2016. Karleena is survived by her husband John Dore, her daughters Sesaly Stamps and Kathryn Stamps, Sesaly’s children Quentin and Simone, her brother Peter Kirby and sister-in-law Rosanna Albertini, Peter’s daughters Rachel and Hannah, her sister Jen McGregor and brother-in-law Rick McGregor.
Karleena was born on June 11, 1946 in Ottumwa, Iowa, in the county hospital just across the Missouri state line where her parents William and Mary Louise Kirby lived in Memphis, Missouri. The family later moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where Karleena spent her childhood. As a young adult she moved to the northeast with her first husband and eventually settled in Newton, Massachusetts where she raised her daughters.
Karleena met her second husband John in 1988 and the two embarked on many adventures for the next 28 years.
Karleena earned her bachelor’s degree from UMass-Boston, followed by a master’s degree in psychological counseling and substance abuse from Antioch New England while she and John lived in Putney, Vermont. Karleena and John moved to Tucson, Arizona in 1999. Karleena’s life centered around her family, her communities of friends, her passion for music, her love of gardening, her frequent trips to Sedona, and her less frequent trips to Hawaii.
She founded the Tucson Women’s Chorus in 2002 and served as its director for thirteen years. Karleena played cello, classical guitar and ukulele, among many other instruments, and devoted much of her life to nurturing a love of music in others and to providing a safe and inviting space for all women and girls to “find their voice” in song.
Memorial Service - Sep 17, 2016
A memorial service for Karleena will be held on Saturday, September 17, 1:00 pm at St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Arizona.
In lieu of flowers, Karleena’s family requests that donations be made to the Rowe Center and be designated to the Woodside Campership Fund.
Rowe is a Unitarian Universalist camp and conference center in western Massachusetts that had a singular impact on Karleena’s life. She met John there, participated in and helped to facilitate numerous camp and conference activities during her years in New England, served as interim executive director for a year, and served on its board of directors. During her time on the board, Karleena actively worked to help establish the Campership Fund to provide young people from all backgrounds the opportunity to participate in the empowering and enriching experience of Rowe’s summer camp programs.
Send donations to UU Rowe Camp & Conference Center, PO Box 273, Rowe, MA 01367, or online.