Co-hosted by the Center for Gender Equity and Dolce, Lehigh’s treble choir, the annual “Raise Your Voice” gala concert returns to the stage Friday, March 4 at 7:30 p.m. at Baker Hall. The event, which was held virtually last year, is celebrating the 50th anniversary of undergraduate coeducation at Lehigh.
Dolce will be joined by the Lehigh Echos, the Lehigh Dance Team, the Lehigh cheerleaders, hip-hop and urban dance group Bad Company and Alpha Phi—the first sorority to obtain a permanent home on the Hill. The gala is open to the public and no tickets are required.
In its 7th year, the concert accompanies Soaring Together, a university-wide effort to honor the past and look to the future of coeducation at Lehigh. The performances will feature an all-female chorus of students, faculty and staff members from various Lehigh ensembles. The multilingual repertoire—all by female composers—is aimed to showcase not only the all-female chorus as a powerful instrument but also the full range of the woman's experience.
“As women, we are each other’s supporting system,” says Dolce Director Sun Min Lee. “We’re soaring together in harmony, in troubled times, and in hope.”
Lee referred to “Raise Your Voice” as a “community-based concert.” The idea of a tight-knit community of women musicians without hierarchies is what she aims for; it’s why she engages women from all across campus. “It’s beautiful to watch,” Lee says, adding that the synergy among Lehigh students, faculty and staff members creates “something special that sparkles. As a woman, I am proud, and I’m inspired by these women.”
Dolce member Heather Keyser ’22 is a fourth generation Lehigh student. Stories from her father, as well as his father’s and grandfather’s, shape her earliest memories of Lehigh. Their legacy, however, is equally matched by her unique experience as the first woman in her family to attend the university, a big part of which includes taking part in the women’s choral tradition.
“If not for this milestone, I couldn’t have experienced what my father had experienced,” Keyser says. “Much has changed, and much remains to be done.”
Keyser had never sung in an all-female choir before she came to Lehigh. “Raise Your Voice,” she believes, highlights both the sonic and supportive dynamics among female musicians—in a way that Rita Jones, Center for Gender Equity director, says reflects the impact of creativity and collaboration at Lehigh. There’s no better way to spread the message of gender equity because, Jones says, “it’s important for people to realize that there is joy in this work.”
“It’s about centering these voices, these musicians, these artists in one singular place”, she says. “It’s a happy place, a joyous place.”
Today, women represent 46% of Lehigh’s undergraduate population, with the Class of 2024 being one of the most diverse classes welcomed to campus. Additionally, 36% of the faculty are women.
Dolce has also invited a diverse group of 50 Lehigh women, including students, faculty, staff members and alumni, to respond to this milestone anniversary. This video compilation, as Keyser shares, “will paint a larger picture of how women helped transform Lehigh and continue to impact their communities.” Jones believes their stories will give us a peek into what the next 50 years will look like for Lehigh women.
Story by Minh Le ’22