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Hoboken women's choir brings the world to New York area
by Rachel Chang for Vocal Area Network
Posted May 20, 2010

Joan Lipman and Leonardo San JuanSince the Cantigas Women's Choir started eight years ago, the Hoboken, NJ-based group has highlighted the power of women's voices with songs from around the globe from countries as diverse as Iran, Korea, France, Canada, Turkey, Egypt and Peru. But this spring, the 54-member choir honors the music of Argentina through Leonardo San Juan's Magnificat, with the Argentinian composer himself guest conducting this North American premiere of his piece.

Cantigas founder and director Joan Litman was first inspired by San Juan's piece when she attended a rehearsal of the Coral Femenino de San Justo choir in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and heard them working on it. "I immediately thought, 'Wow, what a dynamite piece!' There's so much variety in the composition-- so much vigor!" Litman says.

Litman knew right away the piece was the perfect match for Cantigas, who first performed excerpts from the Magnificat in December 2008. Audiences responded so enthusiastically that Litman reached out to the composer himself. "Music is a universal language, and I found that Joan and I had an instant connection, musically and personally. She had studied the work to a great detail," San Juan says.

San Juan traveled to the United States and has been working on his composition in intense yet motivating rehearsal sessions for the last three weeks with the choir composed of dive