• Hoboken Girl{s} of the Week: The Cantigas Women’s Choir

    Written by:

    On International Women’s Day, we thought we’d bring you a special {Hoboken} treat and story.

    Every Thursday night in a bright yellow schoolroom in Hoboken, New Jersey, 45 women from all walks of life gather. From high school students to retirees, architects to magazine editors, New Jersey natives to French, Austrian, and Argentine transplants… every woman has a different background, but every woman shares the desire to better the world through music.

    Cantigas Women’s Choir is a community of women spanning a 50-year age range and representing 17 nationalities, bonded by the rich tradition of women’s vocal and choral music. Founded in 2002 by Joan Isaacs Litman, Cantigas performs both ancient and contemporary music, from Gregorian chants and historic Greek folk songs to the works of living composers, which span the globe from America to Argentina, Venezuela, Finland, Italy, and Syria. Through their singing, their goal is to inspire and uplift anyone listening.

    Womens Choir 1

    Women’s Cantigas Choir

    This spring, Cantigas is embarking on its most ambitious project yet. Their spring concert on May 10th will celebrate the rich tradition of global music  from the 17th century to the present in an extraordinary concert called With Songs in Their Satchels: Celebrating Those Who Brought Music to New Lands.

    In addition to the usual diverse repertoire, the Cantigas will have two original pieces commissioned specifically for the choir from two different continents.

    Womens Choir 2

    Renowned composer and director Leonardo San Juan from Argentina has arranged the Misa San Ignacio by Domenico Zipoli, SJ for the group, which he will guest conduct at the concert, and a young Syrian composer living in Poland named Wassim Ibrahim has written a piece for Cantigas based on a text about the scent of jasmine from Damascus.

    Womens Choir 3

    The Cantigas’ hope is to retain the spirit of historic and cultural authenticity in these pieces by using period instruments and a children’s chorus in order to spread the message of cultural unity through music.

    The Impact

    In our 12 years of existence as a group, we have put on dozens of formal concerts, as well as regular outreach performances in the community at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women, the Empty Bowls Concert (for a Hoboken soup kitchen), the Bayonne Cancer Survivors Group, the Hamilton Park Nursing Home and the Liberty Humane Society.

    Womens Choir 4

    However, we have never performed a concert this ambitious! We’ve never performed music that is so personal to the many members of our group who have come from different lands and are passionate about sharing their love of music with the world. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to bring a truly unique, international musical performance to our community. In order to present it in its full authenticity, we look to you for help.

     The choir is seeking to raise $4000 to cover the costs of performing {beyond their annual dues and member fundraising efforts}.

    These include rehearsal fees and performance fees for professional string sextet and percussion and a harpsichord rental in addition to underwriting the expenses for a children’s choir and the cost of extra choral scores representing the nationalities of members of the choir.

    Womens Choir 5

    Harpsichord

    How You Can Help

    Every bit counts! We appreciate any help you can give us, whether it’s contributing money to help us meet our target goal or by helping us spread the word about the campaign by sharing the links on Facebook, Twitter, or through e-mail to your friends to help get the message out.

    For more information and to get to know Cantigas better, please visit cantigas.net or follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/cantigaschoir or Twitter twitter.com/cantigaschoir.

    Thank you in advance for helping the Cantigas bring cultures together through the power of music.

    What inspiring women! Make sure to donate to their cause by clicking here.


    Written by:

    Jen is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Hoboken Girl. She started the site to discover and share the wealth of things happening in Hudson County. Her roots in the area extend to her maternal grandparents, who owned two textile factories in Weehawken and North Bergen. When not planning the next Hoboken Girl event/volunteer project or editing her life away, she can usually be found shopping at local boutiques, eating an Insta-worthy meal, walking her French bulldog + rescue pup, or watching the latest murder doc on Netflix with her husband.


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