When I heard about the Women of the World concert at the Berklee Performance Center, I was especially excited because I was in a women’s choir for ten years. I always loved the idea of women getting together and sharing their ideas and experiences. As much as I love the sound of mixed voices, there’s just something about women singing together that makes my heart melt.
On February 25th, Women of the World appeared at the BPC to present “Koloro”, a multi-art production paying tribute to the colors in nature, culture, and life. This was reflected by the variety of music, the clothing, the lighting, and more. When the ensemble entered onstage, I was already impressed. The four vocalists (Ayumi Ueda from Japan, Giorgia Renosto from Italy, Annette Philip from India, and Deborah Pierre from Haiti) were wearing beautiful and colorful dresses that seemed to reflect their homelands. Cultural diversity was an important aspect of the concert, especially since each woman came from a different part of the world. In fact, when Ayumi Ueda presented the ensemble, she announced that their repertoire consists of 21 different languages (9 of which were used in this performance). Wow.
The Women of the World ensemble is currently a 10-piece all-female group, but the performance featured many guest artists who played a myriad of instruments, including the accordion, vibraphone, and various horn instruments. Each song was different than the last; there were compositions arranged by the performers, traditional Japanese folk songs, African chants, and even an improvisational piece that featured experimental dancing by Ryoto Seta. That last piece was especially interesting to see because both the music and the dancing were improvised, but the artists had to be synced somehow. I have no idea how they achieved this, but it was truly amazing. A few of the pieces were sung A Capella, but there were also a few instrumental pieces that featured flute or violin. It was very cool to see the variety of music, and that seemed to be the theme of the show: variety and diversity. In an arrangement of “Couleur Café” by Serge Gainsbourg, Magda Giannikou (a guest artist who arranged the piece) threw in a little audience participation. She taught the audience three different parts of the song, and encouraged us to sing out with the ensemble.
Women of the World also represents an organization called Because I Am A Girl, a global initiative that creates sustainable projects in developing countries to give girls access to the most basic of human rights. During the performance, they played a video explaining what it was all about, and encouraged us to check it out. It was nice to see the support this ensemble gave to an organization built to improve the lives of millions of women.
For me, the highlight of the show was when the World Peace choir entered the stage. They entered from the audience in the middle of a piece, singing along with Women of the World. They were also carrying single roses, which they handed to various members of the audience. Even though I didn’t get a rose (meh), I thought that was a cool, interactive part of the concert; this simple gesture projected a feeling of unity and peace between performer and listener. Once they arrived onstage, the forty-odd voices in the choir supported the ensemble perfectly. Hearing four voices with an instrumental ensemble was wonderful, but the power coming from the choir really added to the performance. They also included some great choreography (another way to symbolize unity), and every single musician onstage seemed to be having a blast. The collaboration between Women of the World and the World Peace Choir was perfect for this performance because they were essentially singing for the same reasons: to connect with musicians from all over the world, and, of course, to make beautiful music.
Women of the World is an inspiring organization for so many reasons; for their mission to improve the lives of women all over the world, for their incredibly diverse and beautiful music, and for their connection toward each other and others around them. I have to say I felt a little better about the whole world after their performance, and I highly recommend that you check them out the next time they’re in town.