Document Type

Honors Project

Publication Date



Despite its relatively small population, the city of Appleton has a large and thriving women’s choir community. Between the Lawrence Academy of Music Girl Choir, which serves hundreds of girls every year, and Cantala, the women’s choir at Lawrence University, opportunities for involvement in nationally-recognized female-voice ensembles range from second grade all the way through to college graduation. Using the theories of Foucault, Bourdieu, Butler, Green, and Bentham, this project explores the women’s choir culture of Appleton in an attempt to discover the core values of these two influential programs. I accomplished this by conducting ethnographic research in the form of interviews and surveys as well as completing analysis of existing literature. At the end of my research, I determined that there are three key areas that have defined the success of each program: the ways in which community and intimate relationships are fostered, the performance of challenging and meaningful repertoire, and the empowerment of singers. These programs encourage young women to “find their voices” by breaking, discarding, reclaiming, and subverting stereotypes associated with women and women’s choirs.

Level of Honors

summa cum laude


Conservatory of Music


Sonja Downing