Aug. 24 2011 12:00 AM

The chorus wins recognition from The American Prize for its ‘Dancing Naked at the Edge of Dawn’ CD


Dancing naked is usually not thought of positively. But sometimes adding a beat can make all the difference.

That’s exactly what Sistrum-Lansing Women’s Chorus did to
win the Joy of Music citation, an honorable recognition from The
American Prize for Sistrum’s “Dancing Naked at the Edge of Dawn” CD. 

“We are very excited, absolutely,” said Meredith Bowen, musical director of Sistrum. “It was just out of the blue.” 

The American Prize is a series of non-profit national
competitions that recognize and award cash prizes to the best recorded
performances of music by individuals and ensembles in the United States
at the professional, community/amateur, college/university, church and
school levels. The prize is administered by Hat City Music Theater,
Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit performing arts organization based in
Danbury, Conn.

The Joy of Music citation for Sistrum came with a
certificate and a written evaluation discussing their recording — what
the judges liked, what they thought was unusual and what could be made
better in the future.

“Even though they weren’t official winners we wanted to
recognize them for their performance,” said David Katz, a composer and
professional conductor who serves as the chief judge of The American
Prize. “They sent their CD and we listened to that. It was so full of
life and enthusiasm and joy of music that we wanted to single it out for
additional recognition. We hope people in Lansing who haven’t heard the
CD will make a special effort to do so.”

Other American Prize judges vary in background and
experience, and include professional, community and faith-based
musicians and educators from around the country.

The American Prize is judged solely through recorded
performances. There is no live competition. Competitors complete an
application and submit a CD, DVD or VHS video of their performances.

Bowen sent Sistrum’s CD to The American Prize and self-nominated the group. 

“The CD was about being joyful and dancing and singing,”
Bowen said, “and I heard about the American Prize and submitted our CD.”

Sistrum has been around since 1986, but Joy of Citation is the group’s first accolade. 

“I believe this is the first award we
have won,” Bowen said. “It’s our second CD we’ve put out, but our first
award.” The first CD,  “Sweet Women,” was released in 2006.

Katz said the group’s energetic singing led to their recognition. 

“A lot of times, a recorded chorus can be
perfectly sung, but not exciting; Sistrum captured a lot of energy in
their recording,” Katz said. “There were many community choruses from
across the country and very few got recogontion. Sistrum should be very
proud of what they’re doing.”

Sistrum celebrated its 25th anniversary during its “Singing the Journey” concert in May. The
chorus will perform Mozart’s Requiem at 3 p.m. Sept. 11 at Plymouth
Congregational Church. The event is part of a 40-community project in
which groups around the country will perform the same piece in every
time zone at the same time in a worldwide choral commemoration of those
lost and those who helped others in the aftermath of  Sept. 11, 2001.