The Center for Gender Equity and Dolce, Lehigh’s all women treble ensemble, co-hosted the seventh annual “Raise Your Voice” concert on March 4 in Baker Hall at Zoellner Arts Center.
The event was originally created by music professor and choir director Sun Min Lee.
Lee said when she first arrived at Lehigh, there were a lot of extraordinary women on campus but they didn’t have many opportunities to gather together and celebrate as women.
“So I thought, well, how about one?” Lee said. “One event where I could just have Lehigh women featured in one concert. What I do well is music. I’m a musician, so I thought I would take part in art because everyone has art in their heart or in their lives.”
From there, the “Raise Your Voice” gala concert was born.
Leslie Pearson, associate director of the Center for Gender Equity, said the title of the event explains its significance.
“It was basically just meant to be a space that raised the voices of people on campus who haven’t always been on our campus and have been underrepresented on our campus,” Pearson said.
Heather Keyser, Dolce’s production coordinator, said this year’s “Raise Your Voice” is special because it is the 50th anniversary of women being admitted to Lehigh. Keyser said she tried to bring in new ideas to this year’s concert.
“I put together a video of about 50 women across campus: professors, students, and alumni,” Keyser said. “I asked them a couple of questions like ‘what is one word you would use to describe women?’ and then ‘what does 50 years of women at Lehigh mean to you?’”
That video was featured in the show alongside singing and dancing acts, flutists and violinists.
Caitlin Haas, Dolce’s manager, said the music department is featured more prominently than it normally is in this year’s “Raise Your Voice” event.
“I think that that gives it a little bit more of a concert feel,” Haas said.
In addition to the video and the joint performance by Dolce and the Lehigh Echoes, an all-female a capella group, 10 different groups performed or presented at this year’s “Raise Your Voice” event.
Keyser said the hardest part of organizing the event was coordinating with so many different student groups in person. Last year, because of COVID-19, the event was completely virtual.
“Dolce did perform last year, but it was definitely very different and it made it a little difficult for me to bring it back to an in-person event,” Keyser said. “I didn’t really have any leverage from anything last year just because it was all virtual and we didn’t have to get in touch with Baker Hall or decorate.”
When presenting the concert’s opening introduction, Rita Jones, the director of the Center for Gender Equity, said she finds the feminine things in her life fulfilling.
“I’m a joyful human female and I find being a woman joyful,” Jones said. “And I think you are going to see that joy emanate from our performers tonight as they move their bodies and raise their voices.”
Lee said in honor of the 50th anniversary of female undergrads at Lehigh, the choral arts department has two more female-centered events this semester.
The LU Choir, Glee Club & Dolce: Choral Music by Written Composers event is on March 25 and 26 at 8 p.m. in Baker Hall and the Lehigh University Choral Arts: Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass event is on April 29 and 30 at 8 p.m. in Baker Hall.
Lee said she encourages members of the community to come see the performances.