1. What do you do outside of VOX? I have been gratefully retired for almost 4 years now and am really enjoying being able to sleep in more often! I am very active in my church, West Hollywood United Church of Christ, where I’ve been a member for the past 32 years, and in the Association of 48 UCC churches around LA, where I’ve served for the past 8 years. I love spending time with my kids, Damien & Andrew Rozendal, and their wives and my two grandchildren, Autry (14) and Redmond (6). Many of the Voxxies know Andrew, who’s been coming to our concerts faithfully for the 23 years that I’ve been part of the group. I’m also close to my 3 younger sisters, who live back in Michigan & New York, and spend delightful weeks with them a couple of times a year.
2. What drew you to singing with VOX in the first place and how did you hear about it? I had heard about Vox through the Gay Men’s Chorus (although unfortunately I was NOT in the audience for that first historic concert with the guys) and through the Christopher Street West Gay Pride Festival, but the first concert I attended was in June 1999 at Barnsdall Art Park.
I was impressed by the way these women took the stage, but the very first note brought tears to my eyes with its beauty and I knew right then that I wanted to sing with them. The rest, as they say, is history.
3. What do you remember from your first year singing with the ensemble? My first year in Vox was quite momentous. It was our first time to sing for the American Choral Directors Association, and it was also Iris’ first time to bring any group to ACDA. She made it very clear to us from the outset that we had to be top-notch, as her reputation (which was considerable, even 23 years ago) was on the line. In response, we worked our tails off. We learned that music inside out, upside down & backwards and we were prepared to shine. Iris had warned us that this was a pretty conservative group and they hardly ever gave standing ovations, so we were prepared for a somewhat muted reception that spring afternoon at Loyola Marymount. Well… we knocked their socks off! When we finished singing, MANY of those erudite choral directors did, in fact, give us a standing ovation, which brought many of us to tears. But we made Iris proud and that was the real victory. But that wasn’t all!
It was also our first year to travel. That summer we went up to San Jose to the GALA (Gay And Lesbian Association of) Choruses Festival, which was an entirely different atmosphere from ACDA. The culture of this group included giving EVERY group a standing ovation, just for being brave enough to get up on the stage & sing. Well… from the very first note (which was memorable in itself) we had them enraptured. We didn’t just get a standing ovation at the end of our set - we got one after each song we sang! We were the last group to perform on that concert, and as we were leaving the stage, we got mobbed by the adoring crowd, led by all the GMCLA guys, who had placed themselves right in the front rows, where we could see them. I don’t remember another time when I was so overcome with joy, excitement, relief & pride. For the rest of the week, many of us were wearing our Vox t-shirts and everywhere we went, it was like we were rock stars! Total strangers would come up to us on the street and tell us how much they had enjoyed our singing. Now, THAT was fun!
4. What is it that keeps you coming back? For 23 years now, I have kept coming back because I am so honored to have the opportunity to sing under “Dean Levine” (as she is affectionately known) with a truly amazing collection of singers who, together, form a group that actually is top-notch, well-respected and able to hold our own among the great choruses of this diverse city. I keep coming back because Vox is an important part of my family. I keep coming back because I love to sing and I can’t think of any other group I would rather sing with. I keep coming back because we have an important mission and there’s still a LOT of work to be done. I keep coming back because I can - and I am so grateful to be a small part of this amazing organization.
5. What would you like to do with VOX in the future? Top of the list is definitely traveling to Iceland to sing again with the Gardabaer Women’s Choir, with whom we first sang in May, 2018 at the Tapestry Women's Choir Festival in Vancouver. I’m really looking forward to seeing them in their own surroundings and having more time to get to know these wonderful women.
6. Anything else you would like to share? Fun Facts:~ I am the oldest singer in the group (only by one month, though). I distinctly remember the time when, as I was helping with auditions several years ago, I was chatting with one of our prospective singers and realized that she wasn’t even born yet when I started singing with Vox. I was delighted. I just love that we can all be so different in so many ways and still honor, respect and enjoy each other enough to make beautiful music together.~ I love following the growth of the three free-flying flocks of California Condors (Central CA, Southern CA and AZ/UT/Grand Canyon) and am eagerly anticipating the new flock that the Yurok tribe will be establishing in Northern CA in the next couple of months.~ I am fascinated by geology and dream of traveling to Washington state to see first hand the still-visible scars of the mammoth Ice Age Floods that ripped up the landscape there 15,000 years ago.
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