Welcome to Laetare

A Diverse Community 
Singing Sacred Music for Women

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Who We Are

Sacred Music.
Women's Voices.
Inclusive Community.
Flexible Performance.

Laetare is a small, open-membership ensemble dedicated to performing and promoting sacred music for women's voices. We are based in the Washington, DC area and sing works in the European and American traditions from the early medieval period to the present day, although we are open to music of all times and styles.

Most of us are singers, most are amateurs, and most are women. However, we welcome participants of all backgrounds, faiths, genders, and skills, including composers, instrumentalists, video artists, and students of musical history and culture.

Inspired by the resilience and creativity of artists and musicians throughout the pandemic, we launched our project in May 2021 and devoted our first season to rebuilding musical connections and exploring alternatives to concert-based performance. As we move into our second season with an increasing diversity of performance options and stylistic interests, we invite you to join us as we (as our name suggests) rejoice in our freedom to make music together.

 
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How We Work

learning and connecting through sacred music

Laetare was founded to find new ways for women who are amateur singers to engage with sacred folk and art music beyond the church choir and the concert hall. In our pilot season, our singers met throughout the year to explore new styles of music, make several YouTube recordings, and prepare a live holiday concert. This season, we are expanding our outreach and volunteer opportunities while continuing to prepare concerts and audio recordings.

We are also open to collaborative projects with instrumental musicians, composers, musicologists, and audiovisual artists who are interested in adding women's voices to a project of their own. If your musical, artistic, or historical pursuits interact with women's sacred singing, contact us - we would be delighted to learn more.

 
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Schola Laeta

a study group for sacred part singing

Schola Laeta is an amateur workshop that explores unaccompanied sacred music for upper-voice ensembles. Our first season's repertoire ranged from chant to arrangements of Renaissance classics to modern settings of sacred folk songs. We are currently working on contemporary settings of medieval non-liturgical and American folk texts, and will soon begin a set of classic church anthems set for upper voices.

The Schola is a supportive environment for women who would like to become comfortable singing as a consort, one or two to a part, without a conductor. To accommodate singers of varying skill levels while maintaining both an open membership and a small ensemble size, we may assign pieces of music individually. We circulate a list of music and a sign-up sheet several times a year, and welcome both regular singers and occasional guests. 


Because we are a learning group, some of our pieces are for exploration only. Most of our favorites, however, do find their way to a recording or a concert program. 

 
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Psaltery

small vocal projects with accompaniment

For women whose interest in sacred singing lies outside the choral tradition, Psaltery offers a place to connect to one or two other singers or instrumentalists to make music in a more personal style. Works in development include 12th-century music for two voices and drone; Baroque music for one or two voices and harpsichord; and folk song for solo voice and Appalachian dulcimer.

If you are interested in working in this style, or have a small ensemble that would like to add sacred vocal music to its repertoire, contact us -- we would love to include you.

 
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Social Singing

outreach, carols, hymns, and beer

Laetare is deeply committed to a culture of coming together to sing informally for pleasure - our own and our community's. We carol at Christmas and sponsor occasional hymn sings, sometimes with beer. We can also be booked for outreach engagements. Our social sings require minimal rehearsal commitment and are a great way to get to know us while giving back to the larger community.

 
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Performance Options

Laetare offers several alternatives to the traditional concert format. Singers are welcome to join our working group without making any performance commitment.


For singers who prefer live performance, we offer two concerts a season: an Advent-themed program with caroling in early December, and a more eclectic program in late summer or early fall. Each requires a rehearsal commitment of approximately six weeks. 

We also offer opportunities to record either video or audio tracks for our YouTube channel. These are scheduled individually and require a rehearsal commitment of at least three weeks. We are currently preparing several newly composed, previously unrecorded sacred rounds, and will take on more complex projects as singers' skills and interests permit.

 In time, we would like to expand our YouTube channel to include more unconventional audiovisual content. The power of visual storytelling to enhance the amateur choral experience is largely untapped, and the space to be creative is virtually limitless. If this resonates with you, reach out to us: we would love to build something new together.

 
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Directors

 

Program Director

Erika Singer is dedicated to the promotion and performance of a wide range of sacred music, from worship service to workshop to concert hall. She is a Catholic cantor, a veteran of church choirs of all styles and sizes, and has also been found singing with the City Choir of Washington, Choralis, the Georgetown Epiphany Festival, Westmoreland Festival Chorus, and a church-sponsored outreach ensemble, the Glen Echo Singers. She has studied Gregorian chant through the Ward Method program at Catholic University and is a voice student of Laura Choi Stuart and a conducting student of Vera Kochanowsky. A former securities lawyer, Erika left the workforce to raise her children, whom she supported as a volunteer for the Annapolis Chamber Music Project and the DC Youth Orchestra Program. She lives in suburban Maryland with her dog, her husband, and his legendary collection of jazz, rock, and roots records.

Assistant Director

Emily Hantman Tsai got her first taste of choral singing in the Oberlin Musical Union, and currently sings with the City Choir of Washington; she is also a dedicated member of City Choir’s outreach chorus, the City Singers. Emily is a recovering Chinese historian who has devoted the past few years to volunteer work for the City Choir of Washington, including fundraising, social media, maintaining the website, video editing, and writing and editing the patron newsletter, Allegro. She created the monthly multimedia series “A Moment of Music with the City Choir of Washington” to help connect singers and audience members during the pandemic. Emily has also served on the “Eya at Ten” Taskforce, helping Eya: Medieval Music plan and execute their 2020-2021 tenth anniversary season. Emily lives in Arlington, Virginia, with her husband, Ben (a tenor), and their rescue dog, Pepper (a baritone). She is thrilled to be part of Laetare’s grand adventure.

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Connect

If you'd like to make music with us, share your ideas, or be on our mailing list, we can be reached through this form or the email below. 


Regular rehearsals are at 5:00 pm on Sundays at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Glen Echo, MD. Special projects can be scheduled at other times and places, as space permits. We sing year-round, with vacation breaks in January and August.


New singers are welcome to join us at any time. Drop us a note with your voice type, experience, and musical interests, and we'll be in touch to find a good fit.

We look forward to getting to know you!

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