“I remember coming home after my first workshop;’ recalls Elie Schaeffer of the Women Cantor’s Network (WCN) convention. “I was so high, I had a feeling that all of my sisters around the world were joined in hand, all doing the same thing!”
The network, unlike other cantor’s associations, has no eligibility requirements, no gender divisions and no formal hierarchy. It is a group dedicated, in the words of WCN member Elizabeth Bolton, to “helping to break down the isolation of women cantors not serving on the Southwest or Northeast coasts!”
Participants gather each year in June to share their voices and their concerns. In workshops they discuss ways to encourage recognition of women cantors, and pool information on contract negotiations and other common financial concerns. The convention closes each year with participants extending the warmth of their convention to the public in a concert of new and old music.
The WCN, founded in 1982, now has a membership of over 100 women cantors, soloists, rabbis and cantorial students, as well as a number of contributing supporters, both male and female. For many women cantors, the networking provided by the conference sustains them through the year. “The real support comes when you’re home and you’re the only one in your city!’ says Marsha Fenson of Milwaukee. “It’s very nice to know there’s someone to speak to!”
For membership information in the Women Cantor’s Network, contact Penny Aronson, 3330 Dogwood Dr., Willow Grove, PA 19190.