One day in early 2012, SoCo Women’s Chorus Founder & Artistic Director, Janey Hall mentioned to long~time friend Lynnie Henderson that she was wondering if she had what it took to start a women’s chorus in Austin. She didn’t miss a beat and said, of course, and you should contact another long~time friend, Karen James. All three of the women had sung together in The Women’s Chorus of Dallas, and both Karen & Janey were living in Austin and didn’t realize the other one was there, too!
Janey also talked to a couple of music people in Austin and elsewhere. She was met with luke~warm reactions (“Oh that’s nice. Good luck with that.”) to bluntness (“Austin has too many choruses as it is.”). There was a time when Janey may have had second thoughts about this dream of hers.
But not this time.
There was a mysterious song of courage on a tape loop in her soul…….Music takes my heart! Music takes my heart! If it takes MY heart, won’t it take many more hearts?
Janey took a leap of faith and this oh~so~NOT~techy singer/teacher/artist built her first website on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th, 2012 ~ www.socowomenschorus.com The title read: SoCo Women’s Chorus…..where music takes your heart!
Shortly after the site went live, Janey & Karen met at The Woodland Cafe on So Congress and set forth on a mission to get the word out! They traveled to Dallas in May to meet with the musical leaders they knew: leaders of the world renown Turtle Creek Chorale and former Board Chairs of The Women’s Chorus of Dallas, as well as the very first Artistic Director of TWCD, Cynthia Nott, now the Artistic Director for the Children’s Chorus of Greater Dallas. Those two days set the course and lit the path.
Board members were added, including world renown composer Joseph M. Martin, Vanessa de la Rosa, Jason Kimmell, Elaine Chaney and of course, Karen James. In August 2012, there were 2 days of auditions. Janey told Karen she would be pleased if 30 women showed up to sing. 55 women auditioned. Their Debut Winter Concert ~ Come To The Music ~ was held in the Austin Ventures Studio Theater of Ballet Austin.
More auditioned and off they went! Board members Kathleen Mobley & Dede DeLeon were added. The Spring 2013 Concert, How Can I Keep From Singing? (along with our debut concert) saw sold~out audiences. In November of 2013, we were invited to participate in a joint concert with the Turtle Creek Chorale to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. About 2/3 of the chorus traveled to Dallas and performed Faure’s Requiem, with the wonderful men of TCC.
AMERICANA! was our Spring 2014 offering and to return the favor, we invited the Chamber Chorus of the Turtle Creek Chorale to join us! We traded stage time and then joined together, singing 4 wonderful pieces by American composers.
Our theme for Winter 2014 was BELIEVE for the child in us all, and presented our music in the historical Stateside Theatre at the Paramount in downtown Austin! For our Spring 2015 concert, our theme was “Seasons of Love”, a musical journey through several different languages and styles. We presented this concert in early May at the William B. Travis High School auditorium in Austin.
In July of 2015, many of the members traveled to Ireland, and performed in cathedrals, senior centers, even at the Mayor of Dublin’s residence! Here’s the last song, from our last performance at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin.
Our 5th season was met with anticipation as we welcomed our new Board members and planned our Anniversary Concert, which would be held at the historic State Theatre in downtown Austin! Our winter concert, For The Children, featured the Austin Children’s Choir, Sam Parrott, Artistic Director. Held in the AustinVentures Studio Theatre of Ballet Austin, we had our traditional Silent Auction fundraiser following the concert.
We were invited to perform for the U. S. District Judge’s Naturalization Ceremony at the LBJ Library Auditorium on the UT Campus.
With the votes in, audiences were able to select our repertoire for our 5th Anniversary Concert, 5. We sang our favorites, honored our Charter Members (Elaine Chaney, Nicole Chupka, Jill Fender, Sharon Howell and Claudia Thompson), welcomed our new Assistant Music Director, Ronnie Hall and ate birthday cake!
We were invited by Austin Monthly Magazine to perform for the Wonder Women EXPO, held at the Garden Hilton Hotel in downtown Austin.
We said a sad farewell to long-time accompanist, Casie Luong, and in the next breath, welcomed new Principal Accompanist, Shawn Ellison. (I might add he experienced an exciting ‘baptism of fire’, as Shawn played our Susan G. Komen gig for our Chamber Chorus without a rehearsal! Yeah….he’s amazing!)
And we experienced our first ever Board/Officers Retreat, hosted by Board Chair Janet McCullar! It was a day of brainstorming and strategy sessions as we make our way forward into our next 5 years! It was a great way to end our 5th Season!
SoCo Women’s Chorus Board of Directors
- Janet McCullar, Board Chair
- Sandy Cusick, Board Treasurer
- Rebecca O’Connor, Board Secretary
- Marion Sanchez, Member at Large
- Alex Bosier, Member at Large
SoCo Women’s Chorus Advisory Board
- Joel Baldazo, Dallas Entrepreneur
- J. David Brock, TCU Director of Opera Theatre
- Cathy Brown, Founder & Artistic Director, New Texas Symphony Orchestra
- Billie Buddenhagen, Director of Operations, Ballet Austin
- Larry Carter, Former SoCo Board of Directors Member
- Chester Eitze, Executive Director, Bastrop Opera House
- Craig Hella Johnson, Founder & Artistic Director, Conspirare
- Jeffrey Jones-Ragona, Artistic Director, Capital City Men’s Chorus
- Joseph Martin, Composer; Shawnee Music Press
- Antoine Spencer, former principal accompanist, Turtle Creek Chorale
Janey Hall Founder & Artistic Director of SoCo Women’s Chorus
Janey is a veteran performer and director of choral music. Having taught in both public and private sectors of music education, her choirs have consistently won awards and recognition, including a 1999 Texas Music Educators Association ‘honor choir’ selection.
Hall received a Bachelors degree in All-Level Choral Music Education from Abilene Christian University, but began her music education career even before the degree was conferred, conducting ACU’S Freshmen Women’s Chorus and ACHS’s Concert Choir. Every choir she has conducted in her 30+ years of conducting has doubled in membership. Outside of public & private music education, Hall has also conducted community and church choirs, as well as children’s choirs.
Janey is also a professional singer, practicing what she preaches. She has enjoyed her Carnegie Hall debut in 1993, Dallas Opera debut in 1993, European soloist debut in 1995, as well as performed with Abilene Opera Association, Dallas Lyric Opera, Deep Elum Opera Company and Houston Grand Opera, where she had the honor of having been selected to the cast of Leonard Bernstein’s world premier of A Quiet Place, the sequel to his Trouble In Tahiti. She is a Charter Member of The Women’s Chorus of Dallas and sang with them from 1989-2003. A published composer, Ms. Hall is a member ASCAP with her composition, There Is A Season, published by Shawnee Music Press.