New Hyde Park choir raising money for Nepal earthquake victims

Front row (left to right): Dhilanthi Fernando, Mary Rogel, Diana Williams, Rani Fedson, Chizuko Matsumara, Kiva Nice-Webb, Cat Ky and Gloria Green. Back row (left to right): Kathy Williams, Christine Bailey, Kristin Friesen, Ingrid Wallace, Wendy Sin, Grace Chan McKibben, Bonnie Orton and Shifra Adler. Not pictured: Debra Cantrell Courtesy of Dhilanthi Fernando
Front row (left to right): Dhilanthi Fernando, Mary Rogel, Diana Williams, Rani Fedson, Chizuko Matsumara, Kiva Nice-Webb, Cat Ky and Gloria Green. Back row (left to right): Kathy Williams, Christine Bailey, Kristin Friesen, Ingrid Wallace, Wendy Sin, Grace Chan McKibben, Bonnie Orton and Shifra Adler. Not pictured: Debra Cantrell

-Courtesy of Dhilanthi Fernando

By DASCHELL M. PHILLIPS
Staff Writer

A Hyde Park-based women’s choir is using their debut concert to raise money for those who were adversely affected by the earthquake in Nepal.

Le Cantanti di Chicago, (“The Singing Women of Chicago”), a 16-member choir formed by Hyde Park resident Dhilanthi Fernando, will perform works written exclusively for women’s voices — from classical to folk music to show tunes. Guest musicians include soprano Marlene Dzis and baritone Lyle Nicholson, and Jennifer McCabe will accompany the choir on piano.

The performance will take place at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, May 17 at St. Therese Chinese Catholic Church, 218 W. Alexander St. Admission is free but donations are encouraged especially since a portion will be donated to Nepal earthquake relief.

“We’ve been planning the concert since January,” Fernando said. “It was going to be free admission but we decided to suggest a donation so we can contribute to Nepal.”

On April 25 an earthquake killed more than 6,000 people and injured many others in Nepal. The choir, which is made up of women from Japan, Hong Kong, India, Burma and Sri Lanka who want to use their talents to celebrate and honor the diversity of the world, felt compelled to use their first full concert as a way to help bring relief to those who suffered in the earthquake.

Le Cantanti di Chicago (Le Cantanti) was formed in the fall of 2014 in the home of Fernando at Cornell Village as the group expanded, rehearsals now take place at Ellis Avenue Church.

Fernando, a pianist with a passion for choral music, is on the piano faculty of The Chicago High School for the Arts and has directed many choirs in Sri Lanka and in the U.S. over the years, and this is her third “women only” group. She has also been the accompanist of several choral groups, including the American Conservatory of Music Chorus, the U. of C. Women’s Chorus and the United Nations Choir in New York. She is on the accompanist roster of the Chicago Children’s Choir.

She formed Le Cantanti after finding some music last summer that she felt needed to be used and she knew a lot of singers.

“Many of the [singers] don’t get to sing as much as they used to,” Fernando said. “They all sing in church choirs but this is an opportunity for them to sing something more varied.”

Fernando said the songs that will be performed at the concert will span many cultures and genres, in languages that include Swahili, Japanese, Italian, Spanish and German.

d.phillips@hpherald.com