GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

November 1, 2012

'Leven singers step up for benefit shows

By Gail McCarthy Staff Writer
Gloucester Daily Times

---- — A group of singers drawn together by their sheer joy of singing and their joy of life are still performing after 21 years.

This fall, the women’s a cappella singing ensemble — called ‘Leven’ — is celebrating the New England autumn season and their 21st season includes a pair of fund-raising concerts for the annual Rockport New Year’s Eve.

The ‘Leven program “Carpe Diem!” will be performed at two venues this weekend: Saturday, Nov. 3, at 7:30 p.m. at the Rockport Unitarian Universalist Church, and Sunday, Nov. 4, at 5 p.m. at the Annisquam Village Church.

This concert features songs from Renaissance England to the Serbian Mountains, the French Countryside to the American Heartland, swinging through many times and places in between.

‘Leven is an ensemble of Cape Ann women’s voices that was founded in 1991, in the 11th month, at 1111 Washington St., under the “leavening” influence of Dawn Pratson and ten like-minded women, all active in the community. Various combinations of ‘Leven singers have continued to bring powerful, poignant and eclectic repertoire to Cape Ann audiences ever since.

The current singers are:

Caroline Haines, chief operating officer at Pathways for Children, a singer with Honky Tonk Women, and active member of the Rockport UU Church.

Pat Maloney-Brown, an English, Theater and Humanities teacher, and co-founder of Cape Ann Theatre Collaborative.

Mary Black, a local attorney, soprano, and soloist at the Assumption of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church in Ipswich.

Anne Hyde, who has worked as development associate for Landmark School and Rockport Music, a member of Theater in the Pines and St. Mary’s Church Choir and has sung with several area choral ensembles.

Sheryl Reed, a floral and interior decorator and a thespian/musician.

Kristina Martin, a voice teacher and choral/choir director in Rockport and at the Waring School in Beverly.

They will be joined by Boston area drummer and Gloucester native, Leo Ciaramitaro.

Martin still recalls the impact the group made on her when she attended one of ‘Leven’s first concerts at the Dancer’s Courageous Studio in Gloucester in 1991.

“The singers were so filled with joy, spirit, fun, hubris, and the crowd seemed the same. It was thrilling for all — the assortment of women from the community, their different voices, eclectic and unexpected song repertoire, even their mix ‘n’ match clothing all combined to create a celebration of life,” said Martin.

The group performs at many local events, whether on the Boulevard, in a local theatrical venue, church, or at a corporate fundraiser. Although ‘Leven’s founder, Dawn Pratson, moved to Philadelphia several years ago, the group continues to thrive.

“It has been the very rich, challenging, funky, rewarding collaboration I always imagined it would be to work with this group,” said Martin. “How have we kept this up for 21 years -- for the sheer fun and joy of being with capable, smart and talented women to create music. Sharing art and friendship is intoxicating.”

For the singers, they all agree that “music is oxygen for the soul.”

Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3445, or at gmccarthy@gloucestertimes.com.