Emma Benatar joins VOX as the Education Program Manager with a wealth of experience as an educator and choral conductor, and will be singing with VOX for the first time this season as well. She earned her BM in Music Education, with an emphasis in Choral and General Music from San Jose State University.
Read on to learn more about Emma in her own words...
1. What do you do outside of VOX (i.e. what is your other work?)
I teach elementary and middle school music in a tiny rural district in LA County. We've just started our first elementary and middle school choirs, and I love watching my students grow and change and discover just how much they are capable of!
2. What drew you to working and singing with VOX and why was now the right time?
I have been to many VOX concerts over the years - the director that inspired me to pursue music education, Lori Marie Rios, has sung in the group for years, and the first time I saw the group perform I thought, "I want to be a part of that". It's been about 8 years since then, and finally the stars aligned. I moved back to the LA area two years ago and this is the first time in a long time that I have had enough free time to make the commitment, and the courage to audition. 100% honesty, I've also been looking for a group of like-minded people to build friendships with and that's a huge part of why I auditioned - making friends in your thirties is hard, and I can think of no better place to do it!
While I was looking up audition information, I saw the post for the EMP position, and knew I had to apply. Not going to lie, I was a little terrified to do it. But I took a deep breath and jumped in anyway. I'm so glad that I did! I'm learning a ton, and the opportunity to use my skills to help build a program that will reach so many students, and share with them the opportunities I wish I had had is amazing.
3. What are you excited about singing with VOX this season?
I don't think there is a specific piece that I'm most excited about - because I am LOVING the variety. I really love the challenge of the "Home in Me" set, because there is so much depth and storytelling happening - I feel like I'm on an adventure every time I dive in! But I also love the simplicity of "Crossing the Bar". Really leaning into those low alto foundations in "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" is giving me life - it feels like coming home.
My favorite part of the choral process is actually all the discovery that happens in rehearsals - I love the learning that is happening, from moment one. I came home from the last rehearsal all abuzz and inspired because we are actually making music, and starting to really play and create together.
4. And what excites you about your new role as VOX's EPM?
I'm really excited about some programs we are building, in the hopes of bringing choral music to schools where students wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity. But mostly, I'm excited about what we're planning to DO with the programs. We're working to create spaces where young people can connect with their communities, have meaningful discussions about real life topics, dive into the context of the music they are experiencing, share their unique voices, and come to choral music in a really meaningful way. The work that VOX does to empower women's voices is incredibly powerful; I'm really excited to work with new voices and perspectives to discover what empowerment looks like for them.
I joke that my life's goal is to take over the world through choral music, but really the goal is to change it. What could we create and accomplish if the world was more like a choir?
5. Anything else you want to share (a fund fact, etc.)?
Sorry to disappoint, but no, I'm not related to Pat Benatar! I am, however, related to Jenny Lind, The Swedish Nightingale, who was rumored to have had quite the affair with P.T. Barnum.