Aurora Chorus elevates women’s voices and opens the hearts of singers and audiences through sharing diverse choral repertoire, celebrating musical excellence, and cultivating community.


Our 2018–19 fiscal year celebrated Aurora’s 27th concert season and our artistic director Joan Szymko’s 25th year conducting the chorus. With your support, we sang to a record 2,146 audience members with the voices of 152 individual singers ranging in age from pre-teens to octogenarians. Aurora also kicked off her 27th year with the launch of a new website. 

We started the season singing of the “Secret Gardens of the Heart,” including the premier of Joan Szymko’s “A Winter Ride” and basking in Joan’s setting of Mary Oliver’s words “how the sun blazes for everyone just so joyfully.” We crooned Leonard Cohen’s iconic “Anthem” reminding us that “there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” We also released “Everything She Touches,” a limited edition CD set of 25 works Joan composed expressly for Aurora. 

For the second year at our International Women’s Day concert, Aurora welcomed pre-teens to join in a multigenerational choir. We also welcomed back Beth Wood and Ara Lee James of Stand & Sway to share the stage. We delivered the west coast premiere of Joan’s “Nothing Short of Grace,” with the ever-prescient text: 

To take one step takes courage.                          
To take one step takes heart.
It takes heart. 
But to keep going, never knowing
what may lie ahead.
To choose the unknown and
look fear in the face:
That is nothing short of grace.

Focusing on ways that women have taken steps to change the world for the better, our concert honored several women in Oregon who embody the values of IWD through their compassionate leadership in the social services, the arts, religion, government, and business. We are grateful to the donors who made these honors possible. 

Aurora closed out her 27th season with an impassioned plea to hear the voices of the land and preserve our only home Mother Earth. We sang of planting a tiny tree to grow in beauty to shame the face of greed, of reveling in tall trees, of mourning children crying at the border, and of hearing Earth’s spirit singing our name. We celebrated the west coast premiere of Joan’s setting of Wendell Berry’s Look Out as we invited you to say YES! to the air, the earth, the trees, the birds, the children. We were proud to share the stage with local ensemble Humanis, as well as to welcome several local non-profits with shared visions of protecting our Earth to join in our concert refreshments. 

Last but certainly not least, Aurora maintained her commitment to being accessible to all who seek to find community on the risers or in our audience. The Eileen Spencer Singer Scholarship Fund continued to support singer dues so that finding a home in Aurora is never cost-prohibitive. We also maintained our partnership with Oregon’s Arts for All program, offering $5 tickets to Oregon Trail Cardholders. 

In these challenging times with a news cycle that unbearably often reminds us that we are walking a long road to being whole, I find great solace in the empowering, loving sisterhood that Aurora nurtures. I am grateful to you for sustaining Aurora’s work through your voice, your presence at Aurora’s performances, and your financial support. 

In harmony,

Jaclyn Leeds
Executive Director
Aurora Chorus


Chart by Visualizer
Chart by Visualizer
# of Individual Singers


# of Instrumentalists


# of Audience Members


# of Languages Sung


# of Instagram Followers


# of Facebook Followers


Singer Participation Scholarships


“Thank you for a most beautiful and healing afternoon of song and poems. The concert was just what I needed.”

— Aurora Chorus Audience Member


Click here for info on booking

2018–19 highlights for the Aurora Outreach Ensemble (AOE) included performing at the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education. In our 45-min performance entitled Never Say, we presented a program reflective of Jewish spiritual heritage and historical perspective. This performance complemented the current exhibition The Last Journey of the Jews of Lodz, in partnership with Portland Art Museum’s Memory Unearthed: The Lodz Ghetto Photographs of Henryk Ross. In another community gathering, AOE joined the Center for Earth Leadership in the annual Earth Day in Music and Song event.

“Thank you for a most beautiful and healing afternoon of song and poems. The concert was just what I needed.”

— Aurora Chorus Audience Member