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VOX Spotlight

Assistant Conductor Lori Marie Rios began singing with VOX during our 2017-2018 season. An invaluable member of staff, she leads our Music Education programs with the knowledge and passion that comes from many years as a educator of students of all ages.

To learn more about what Lori Marie is looking forward to this season with VOX, including some brand new programs we will be introducing this season, read on...

Lori Marie Rios

1. What do you do outside of VOX (your other job, etc.)? I am Professor of Choral/Voice Studies at College of the Canyons. I teach Chamber Singers/Just Jazz and Voices of the Canyons and administrate the Music 190 performance class for all music majors instrumental and vocal. . I also teach vocal development and private voice.

2. What drew you to singing with VOX? I have sung in a choir my whole life since the 1st grade. I love singing. I have known about VOX for a very long time and have known Iris for about 28 years. The time was never right but I decided to make time and asked her if I could come sing for VOX -she said of course! 

3. What is your favorite memory of singing with VOX? My favorite memory would be singing at the American Choral Directors Association, Western Division Conference in March of 2022. There was something electric about the ensemble when we took the stage. We knew the 'Suffrage Cantata' (by composer Andrea Ramsey) so well that we were living, breathing, understanding, and communicating the story with such passion and conviction. We walked off knowing that we made an impact on the audience and each other. My life was changed in an instant. It was a proud moment for all of us. 

4. What are you most excited for this season with VOX? I love the process, musically and being together. We work hard. However, we still find time to enjoy the laughter, tears, and joy of being together as a group of women who have a common goal together. One week a song may sound very different than the next time we sing it. It grows and then blooms into a music-making journey that validates the musical process called rehearsal. Performance is where we get to communicate it to an audience. 

I am also really excited about our future Music Education programs. A grant from Chorus America using the Justice Choir Songbook starts this week! This is spearheaded by Emma Benatar who has written the curriculum for this program and we will be working to bring this program to students and schools that may not have music programs already.

We are also bringing back the Choral Scholars program for the first time since Covid. This program allows us to bring 4 or 5 current high school choral music students into the VOX environment. Those singers will work with me before rehearsals, attend all activities and practice with us for a concert session and then  perform in the last concert of our season! Many of those past choral scholars are at major universities studying voice and music education. As a music educator of 33 years, I am honored to work with these young musicians.

 

In April, we have our Concert for Youth, in which I have the pleasure to conduct! This is the first live Concert for Youth that we have done since Covid and I expect that we can pack out the house!! In the afternoon that day, we will be hosting an Invitation SSAA festival for High School Treble Voices. This is the grand premiere of the festival. Artistic Director, Iris Levine and I will be the adjudicators and clinicians for the festival, which is really exciting!   Being together as a community, the students and VOX  members making music together and encouraging all ages to be music makers - it just does not get better than that!

5. Anything else you want to share (a fun fact, etc.)? I love bread! with real butter!! I hate broccoli. I love cooking my Dad's Mexican recipes, the enchiladas are to die for, and my mother's New York cheesecake recipe. I started coloring my hair when I found my first string of gray at the age of 30. I stopped during Covid...and it's colored again!! My hubby and I have a granddaughter, Meadow Moon who is 61/2 years old and I still call her baby girl - with her permission. 

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VOX Spotlight

Audience members will recognize VOX singer Marcela Pan not only from her 20 years singing with the ensemble, but also as the moderator of our pre-concert talks!

Marcela brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to VOX as both a musicologist and Music Library Manager at USC, as well as a trained opera singer. To learn more about what Marcela is looking forward to this season, as well as what VOX has meant to her in the past, read on...

Marcela Pan

1. What do you do outside of VOX (your other job, etc.)? I am a musicologist and work as the Music Library Manager at USC. I am also a trained opera singer and sing all over Southern California as a soloist.

2. What drew you to singing with VOX? I have always loved singing in choirs, and have been a choir member since I was a teenager. The experience of choral singing cannot be compared to any other singing experience. I have been with Vox for about 20 years.

3. What is your favorite memory of singing with VOX? There are many favorite experiences. Perhaps for being so close in time, I loved premiering The Leonardo Notebooks. I also love traveling with Vox, the most significant traveling experiences being when we traveled to Mexico and to Canada. The sisterhood we created with choirs and the cultural exchange that happened was something I will never forget.

4. What are you most excited for this season with VOX? I'm excited about the whole season! But what I love the most is being able to present new works to the audience. 

5. Anything else you want to share (a fun fact, etc.)? Not a fun fact, but for me it was tremendously important that Vox did not "stop" during the pandemic. We found a way, a new way, to make music together. The support I got from the group was perhaps what helped me get through that time.

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VOX Spotlight

The VOX staff continues to grow with another wonderful addition! Angelica Rowell joins VOX as our new Social Media Coordinator and as a new singer as well. With experience as a Content Producer, a screen writer, and an activist, among (many) other things, Angelica is a "modern day Renaissance Woman" that we are thrilled to have on our team.

Read on to learn more...

Angelica Rowell

1. What do you do outside of VOX (i.e. what is your other work?)

I do about a million things! It's one of the reasons I like to call myself a 'modern day renaissance woman'. But right now I'm currently working as a Content Producer for a social media ad agency, serving as Vox's Social Media Coordinator, and cultivating my screenwriting career. I also curate and lead workshop seminars titled, "The Evolution of Black Music" and "Arts for Activism".  

 

2. What drew you to singing with VOX and why was now the right time?

I missed singing. The pandemic forced me to make a lot of music in solitude, or virtually, and I was craving the synergy that only singing in a choir can provide. 

 

3. What are you most excited about singing with VOX this season?

The music! Iris picks these incredibly moving pieces that not only touch your soul sonically, but poetically, and spiritually. I'm a sucker for crunchy, dissonant harmonies, and our first concert, 'No Place Like Home', features a lot of those! 

 

4. And what excites you about your new role as VOX's Social Media Coordinator?

I think just having the opportunity to help show the world who Vox is and what they stand for! I love how open, affirming, and equity based Vox Femina's mission statement is because it aligns with my own personal and artistic viewpoint. To show that through music to the Los Angeles community, as well as the world is something special. 

 

5. Anything else you want to share (a fun fact, etc.)?

I am an Annual Pass holder to Disneyland, I watch an unhealthy amount of reality TV, and I have a Pinterest board for everything! Oh, I also read tarot and oracle cards.

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VOX Spotlight

VOX is excited to welcome Emma Benatar as both a new singer this season and VOX's first Education Program Manager! With a wealth of both music education and choral conducting experience, and a BM in Music Education, with an emphasis in Choral and General Music, from San Jose State University, Emma will be a fantastic addition to the team.

Read on below to hear from her in her own words...

Emma Benatar

1. What do you do outside of VOX?

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?
Sorry to disappoint, but no, I'm not related to Pat Benatar! I am, however, related to Jenny Lind, The Swedish Nightingale, who was rumoured to have had quite the affair with P.T. Barnum. 
VOX 2022 Intern Victoria Mitchell

VOX Spotlight

VOX is thrilled to welcome intern Victoria Mitchell to the organization!

Victoria, who is Native American, grew up on the Quechan Indian Reservation in Arizona before moving to LA to attend college. Currently a Music Major at Santa Monica College, Victoria is a percussionist who specializes in the marimba thanks to her desire to show off as a child! 

While she hasn't decided if her path will lead her towards a career in music education or music therapy yet, it seems clear that Victoria has the talent and tenacity for either! To learn more about what drew Victoria to working with VOX and how she ended up with a dog named Happy, read on...

Victoria Mitchell

1. What do you do outside of your internship with VOX?

I am currently starting my second year at Santa Monica College as a music major, so I’m usually doing some form of studying or practicing. My main instrument is the marimba, but I also like to include snare, timpani, piano, and drumset into my practice regimen. In my free time I love to cook, bake, and spend time with family and friends! 

 

2. What drew you to working with VOX?

As someone who is passionate about the arts, I wanted to work within a creative organization. My professor sent me a flier about the VOX internship, and I knew it would be a perfect fit. Not only did it align with my future goals of working in musical ensembles, but was also an organization that made its mission of inclusivity extremely clear. Being any kind of minority in the arts is hard, and I admired every aspect of VOX’s mission. 

 

3. What made you decide to study percussion?

This is actually a funny story! I started playing piano around the age of 10, so I had already had the ability to read basic rhythms and follow a metronome. In 5th grade, the middle school band directors came to my school to enroll students in band and help them decide on an instrument. Since percussion was the only section you had to audition and have prior knowledge for, I thought it would be nice to show off… and I ended up being accepted! I was definitely a child full of personality.

 

4. What would you like to do in the future?

While I’m still deciding on a path, my current goal is to finish up my last year at Santa Monica College and then transfer to a university. I have always wanted to go into music education, but lately have been considering going into music therapy instead. Music has healed me in profound ways, and I am so excited to spread my knowledge to future generations!

 

5. Anything else you would like to share?

I’m incredibly passionate about animal welfare, which had led me to become a foster dog parent through the organization named A Wish For Animals. In the past 6 months, I’ve fostered around 10 dogs, which have all been adopted into their forever homes. I did recently fail at this whole fostering thing though… and ended up adopting our most recent foster dog, our lazy cocker spaniel named Happy :)

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