The Laetare Project
A Diverse Community
Singing Sacred Music for Women
Who We Are
The Laetare Project is a small volunteer choir dedicated to the art of 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.
Our core members are experienced amateur altos and sopranos, but we welcome participants of all backgrounds, faiths, genders, and skills, and are happy to collaborate with male singers, composers, instrumentalists, video artists, and students of musical history and culture.
We offer (but do not require) both formal and informal performance opportunities, as well as outreach and educational programming. We invite you to join us in any of these ventures as we (as our name suggests) rejoice in making music together.
How We Work
learning and connecting through sacred music
The Laetare Project was founded in 2021 to allow women who are amateur singers to engage with sacred folk and art music beyond the church choir and the concert hall.
Our mission is threefold: to provide a working group for amateur consort singing; to find performance opportunities for small ensembles of experienced amateur singers; and to share hymns, carols, and other traditional music with the larger community.
We are pleased to have commissioned both new music and arrangements of both Renaissance and modern works, and look forward to further collaborations with instrumental musicians, historians, and other artists whose interests intersect with women's sacred singing.
a study group for sacred part singing
Laetare is an amateur workshop that explores unaccompanied sacred music for upper-voice ensembles. Our repertoire ranges from plainchant to newly commissioned works, with special emphasis on early modern polyphony and works from the American folk tradition.
This group is a supportive environment for women who enjoy exploring new repertoire in a directed ensemble of eight to twelve voices, either as a stand-alone project or a stepping stone to working one on 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 rotate singers and 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. Many of our favorites, however, will find their way to a recording or a concert program.
No audition is required. Singers should be able to read, keep time, match pitch, and blend. Send us a short description of your vocal range, stylistic interests, and experience, and we'll match you up with the next available group.
small group performance
For women who prefer to sing one or two on a part, Psaltery offers a place to connect to other singers or instrumentalists to make music without a conductor. Much of our music is polyphony, but we are open to working in other styles and welcome singer suggestions.
Auditions for new singers are available by appointment throughout the year. We'd like to hear a warmup, a very brief unaccompanied solo or excerpt of your choice (such as Gibbons "The Silver Swan"; Vaughan Williams "Come, my Way"; or any spiritual), and have you sing with us in a brief duet or trio - we'll send you the music in advance.
If you are an instrumentalist and would like to collaborate with a small group of singers, we should be able to connect you; contact us to discuss the details.
outreach, carols, hymns, and beer
We encourage 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. No experience necessary: if you just feel like singing, let's find a time to do it together.
Both our small and large ensembles offer several alternatives to the traditional concert format. Laetare singers are welcome to join our working group without making any performance commitment; singers in Psaltery would normally expect to perform pieces as they complete them, either in person or for our YouTube channel.
For interested singers, we offer a full-scale Christmas concert, which requires a rehearsal commitment of at least five weeks. Opportunities for small group performance and YouTube recordings arise on an ad hoc basis and require a rehearsal commitment of at least three weeks.
Concert and workshop themes for our 2023-24 season include:
Under the Shadow: music for the close of day
In a Foreign Land: music of English convents in exile
Number Our Days: music for All Hallows Eve
The Holly Green: music for the season of Christmas
Star in the East
Songs for a Christmas Night
DECEMBER 11, 2022
Laetare's second annual Christmas concert featured a program of Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, and traditional music, followed by caroling and a reception for the benefit of an Afghan refugee family.
Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, Bethesda, Maryland
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 and soprano with the Heritage Signature Chorale, and has also sung with the early music ensemble Illuminare, the City Choir of Washington, and the Glen Echo Singers, a church-sponsored outreach group. Erika is a voice student of Laura Choi Stuart, studied Gregorian chant in the summer program at Catholic University, and is pursuing conducting studies through the distance learning program of the Royal School of Church Music. A securities lawyer turned orchestra parent, she discovered the world of chamber music through her children and then fell in love with its choral form as a singer in two very special church choirs. She lives in suburban Maryland with her husband, his amazing record collection, and their resident soprano soloist, an Irish Setter named Ivy.
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.
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 for Laetare at 5:00 pm on Sundays at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Bethesda, MD, near Glen Echo Park. Psaltery rehearsals and 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 schedule an audition and/or send you some music.
We look forward to getting to know you!