Women from around the community will soon be gathering together to perform in a festival known as Women in Song. During the festival, these women will come together to sing in various choirs and then come under the direction of an internationally known conductor.

“This is our second annual festival,” said Matthew Potterton, Director of Choral and Vocal Activities at ETSU. “Last year we decided to begin this. We invite community members, our students, and other schools to participate in a mass group choir, so that’s what actually ends the whole thing.”

Potterton said that the first part of the program would be the ETSU Belle’s Women’s Choir, the Milligan Women’s Choir, Seymour High School Women’s Choir and Cantemus, a community women’s choir. The concert ends with everyone performing together.

“Last year there was about 125 women from throughout the community,” Potterton said. “We had a very prominent female conductor, Eliza Rubenstein, conduct this group and it was very successful. We had a great group of singers and a great turn out in terms of the audience as well.”

This year the festival has hired Joan Szymko, an internationally known composer, to work with the group.

“Anybody can participate; there’s no audition,” Potterton said. “Any female can come on Friday and participate. You get the music there, you don’t have to prepare anything in advance. You get to work with Joan Szymko, who is a super star in the choral field.”

Potterton said that the Women in Song Festival was started to show students different types of role models.

“I want to have as many role models for our students as possible,” Potterton said. “I would like our female conductors to know that there are very prominent, successful, great conductors in the field and so I wanted to expose them to role models.”

Potterton said that each of the choirs would have their own material to perform, but for the final concert Szymko selected four of her popular pieces for the finale.

“For music students, it’s an incredible opportunity to see Joan Szymko work with a choir,” Potterton said. “For the community as a whole, what a great opportunity to see women from all over our community come together to present this concert.”

The Women in Song Festival is on March 17 and will be held at Seeger Memorial Chapel at Milligan College. The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. The event is free with a $10 recommended donation.