The spirit behind the Women’s March L.A. lives on in Ventura. On Friday, March 10, the First United Methodist Church of Ventura (FUMCV) will present Women Bringing the World Together Through Music, benefiting women and the musical arts. The free concert will celebrate female composers and feature local professional talent, including the church’s choir. Proceeds will go to the local charities Ventura County Rescue Mission, which serves the poor and the homeless, and Tender Life Maternity Home, which helps abandoned pregnant women and their children. A portion of the proceeds will go to support the church’s own music ministries and the “betterment of music as a valued art form.”

Sally Rose Bates, a mezzo-soprano and FUMCV’s director of music ministries, got the idea for the concert when she particpated in the Women’s March in Los Angeles on Jan. 21. After witnessing the massive outpouring of love, hope and unity, Bates decided she wanted to do something to echo the message of the march and give back to the community. She was inspired to put together a concert that celebrates women and the peaceful, unifying force of music. The concert is billed as being “By women, for women and their loving and avid supporters.” A nonpolitical, nonpartisan event, the concert is about what we all have in common, and welcomes people of all faiths. 

Pianist Alexa Constantine rehearses for the Friday concert. Photo by Renata Hundley

The focus will be on women, but many men will be enthusiastic participants. “Everyone is very excited about it and spreading the word,” Bates explains. “The men in the choir are very supportive of the cause and just as excited [as the women] to sing in the concert. It is an inclusive event.” She adds that the concert will include “special performances by opera and contemporary vocal soloists, classical pianists, as well as choral works of living female composers and their female predecessors.”

The talent coming on board is impressive, on both the performer and composer sides. One piece to be performed is “Offertory: Lullaby” by Amy Baer, a composer for film, theater and television who worked on the scores for such films as Spotlight and The Hobbit trilogy. “Lullaby” will be performed by the church’s Chancel Choir. The full choir will also sing “Siyahamba/We are marching in the light of God,” a South African folk song arranged by Doreen Rao. The Chancel Choir Women will sing “The March of the Women” by renowned English composer and suffragette Ethel Smyth. Bates will sing “Auf dem Land und in der Stadt” by Anna Amalia of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, the 18th century German duchess and composer who transformed her Weimar court into a major cultural center. Contemporary Christian song “Heal Our Land” by Kari Jobe is one of the more recent works to be performed, by Bates, who will be accompanied by Pete Goleta on guitar and Brian Bates on bass.

Other solo performers scheduled to appear include Dianna Burdick, soprano Millie Schofield, Anneli Dabins and tenor Phil Winesbury. One very special presentation will be by pianist and composer Cindy Shen, who will perform her original piece “Prelude: Mvmt. I of Piano 4 Hands.”

Soloists Phil Winesberry, Millie Schofield, Anneli Labins and Dianna Burdick. Photo by Renata Hundley

The event promises to be a night of celebration, one that Bates is looking forward to sharing with the community. The event is free, but people are invited to give what they can. A $20 “love offering” is suggested. Those who cannot attend the event, but wish to make a donation, are asked to send a check paid to the order of FUMCV, with “Music Ministry” written on the memo line. More important than the amount of money someone can give, however, is what Bates hopes audience members will take away from the concert: a sense of hope, love and community.

Women Bringing the World Together Through Music will be on Friday, March 10, at the First United Methodist Church of Ventura, 1338 E. Santa Clara St., Ventura. For more information, call  643-8621 or visit www.fumcventura.org or the church’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/fumcventura/.