A new school year means new opportunities for everyone here at Ohio University. The Ohio Women’s Ensemble (OWE), formerly known as Women’s Chorale, is an all-female non-auditioned ensemble that brings together talented students from all over campus. The women are hard at work this semester along with a big year ahead of them.
All 107 women enrolled in the choir, the largest number of singers the ensemble has ever had, are preparing for the Ohio Music Educators Association (OMEA) conference in January 2016. OMEA is the professional association for all music educators, and every year at the end of January they host a professional development conference, which is the largest gathering of music teachers within the state of Ohio.
OMEA listens to audition recordings and invites only a small number of ensembles, bands and choirs to perform. Kindergarten through university age music groups participate and, after having such a successful spring semester, OWE sent in three recordings of songs they performed from their spring tour.
Out of 150 music groups across the state that sent in material, the Ohio Women’s Ensemble were one of the choral groups invited to perform, making them the first Ohio University choir to go to OMEA since 2005. In addition to being the first choral group in ten years to be selected from Ohio University, it is the first time OWE has ever been invited.
Paul Mayhew, an assistant professor of music education, has been the director of OWE since fall of 2013 and is currently preparing the women for the conference.
“This is a great opportunity to not only get our name out there, but as a form of recruitment. Many high school choral directors will be there,” Mayhew said. “They hear good things from Ohio University, and from an Ohio University choir, they’ll share that with their students. They may be inclined to tell their high school students that great things are happening here, and that students should come here to study music or music education.”
With OMEA giving the group a one hour time slot to perform, The Ohio Women’s Ensemble is spending their entire fall semester preparing the songs that they will perform at the conference. All of the music performed at their fall concert on Oct. 23, a song from their winter concert on Dec. 4 and some additional pieces from last year’s performance will make up their program for OMEA.
Mayhew and all the singers encourage people to come to the concerts this semester to support them and all of their hard work. Additionally, these concerts include all of the ensembles in the School of Music, including Choral Union and the Singing Men of Ohio.
The Ohio Music Educators Association conference is being held on Jan. 29 at 1:15 p.m. at the Cincinnati Convention Center, with performances being held in the ABC Ballroom in downtown Cincinnati. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to come out and support the Ohio Women’s Ensemble as they embark on this opportunity.