Looking back at my choice, I've asked myself, "Why didn’t I look for more mixed groups?

Why did I insist on only looking at women’s groups? What was so alluring about MVC?"

Having grown up with four brothers, and not having many female friends, I think I craved that female component that I had missed out on. Also, being 120 miles from hometown and family led me to search for a group of like-minded people. At my job, it was harder to connect with people because they had small children whereas a chorus of women would ensure a musical connection, though we would be in various stages of life. I found all this and more at MVC.

The wide grins of Terry Lee and Sarah Goldman greeted me as I walked into the rehearsal hall that first night, immediately putting me at ease, as well as their reaction to my musical experience. When I asked for guidance, they provided it. Sarah said I should try to sing bass. Being a classically trained soprano, I wasn’t sure, but I was willing to try.

There was a part of me that said, “This is what you need -- find a family to share this with.” I’m so happy that I listened to that voice! The indelible relationships I’ve formed since joining MVC have given me the community I didn’t even realize I’d been seeking so desperately. I’ve grown to love and be inspired by the women of MVC and to support them when life is hard.

Being a part of an ensemble is more than adding your voice to the group, it’s adding yourself. Body and soul are required to make the group come alive, in sound and in movement. Without every piece of you, it’s just noise. Singing unaccompanied means that there is no hiding behind strings or percussion. The raw nature of the art form means that you are really presenting yourself and that takes courage. In MVC, I feel entirely safe and free to push my boundaries, and become a better performer. The family I have on Thursday nights enables me to grow and learn and evolve, and that is something for which I will be forever grateful.

(Kate Bonci sings Bass in Merrimack Valley Chorus, and with the quartet, Lashes.)