The Arizona Women’s Chorus comprises women ages 18 and older from all walks of life. We are an advanced adult women’s chorus singing a wide variety of repertoire from jazz to classical, Broadway to international and everything in between. This chorus’s past history includes tours by invitation, collaborations with other musical groups, and commissioning of new works for women’s voices.
AWC provides an opportunity for women to sing as a choral community and to inspire and enrich the lives of their audience, and strives to perform a varied repertoire in order to benefit and educate the southern Arizona community and beyond.
We are a group of dedicated vocalists who gather to rehearse and perform a wide variety of repertoire. We occasionally travel to festivals or events, by invitation. The rehearsal year is divided into two semesters: the fall session usually begins the first Monday in September after Labor Day and the spring session begins in early January. There are no rehearsals in the summer.
The Conductor, Terrie Ashbaugh, hears auditions for all new singers. This is to determine how each singer and each voice fits within the chorus. During the audition, range and voice part are tested, as well as singing a melody from a familiar song like “Silent Night.” The audition process takes place before the semester’s rehearsals start.
- Email: AWCsings@gmail.com
- Phone: (520) 404-3148
- Rehearsal location: Casas Adobes Congregational Church, 6801 N Oracle Road
- Mail: AWC PO Box 68019 Tucson, AZ 85737-9998
The Conductor: Terrie Ashbaugh, MM
Terrie Ashbaugh has been a professional musician for over 50 years. She received her BA in piano performance from Seattle Pacific University and Masters Degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Arizona under Dr. Maurice Skones.
Terrie directed the Columbia Boys Choir and Columbia Girls Choir (2 separate choirs) Preparatory and Training choirs (concert level choirs consistently won top awards), and the Kirkland Choral Society, Kirkland, Washington, in addition to directing music ministries at several churches in the Seattle area. In Arizona, after the choral conducting program disbanded it, she formed the University of Arizona Faculty/Staff choir as an independent chorus. Since 1998, she directed the Southern Arizona Women’s Chorus, now newly formed as the Arizona Women’s Chorus. Terrie is recently retired as full time Director of Worship and Administration at Ascension Lutheran Church and School. In 2008 she was nominated as an Individual Artist for the Governor’s Arts Awards, in 2009 received a letter of recognition from the Mayor of Tucson for her contribution to the community, and in 2011 was nominated for the Tucson/Pima Arts Council Arts Educator Award. She has had the privilege to direct on the stage alongside Dr. Rene Clausen, Dr. Kirby Shaw, and Rollo Dilworth. Terrie also composes and arranges music for her various choirs.
In 2010 Terrie co-founded the Women In Song festival with 100 women attending in Seattle, Washington. In 2013 this festival was hosted by the Southern Arizona Women’s Chorus in Tucson. She also founded in 2013 the Arizona Choral Arts Association which supports choral arts by providing education to the diverse southern Arizona community through promoting choral arts and choral performances, as well as to enable choruses to network, collaborate, and market using shared resources. In 2014-16 she served 2 terms on the Board of Directors of the Arizona Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association (AzACDA) as the Repertory and Standards Chair for Community Choirs.
The Accompanist: Meily J. Mendez, PhD
Dr. Meily J. Mendez is an accomplished solo and collaborative pianist who has taught piano for 16 years. She received her Doctorate in Musical Arts in Piano Performance from the University of Arizona’s Fred Fox School of Music, studying with Steinway artist, Dr. John Milbauer. Dr. Mendez has performed at various venues, including the Leo Rich Theater Performance Hall, the Stevie Eller Theater, and the Brechemin Hall, and has performed as a solo and collaborative artist in both the U.S. and Mexico. She teaches piano lessons and group piano classes to all ages and all levels. Each student is unique, and Dr. Mendez believes that each student has their own needs and abilities and subsequently tailors each lesson accordingly.
She is an active member of several professional music organizations that adhere to the highest standards of teaching and performing including Tucson Music Teacher’s Association, the Arizona State Music Teacher’s Association, and the Music Teacher’s National Association. Ms. Mendez has given presentations at the ASMTA conferences on topics such as Lera Auerbach’s 24 Preludes for Piano. She has served as an adjudicator for music competitions and she continues her research and performances of solo and collaborative works. She is delighted to be performing with the Arizona Women’s Chorus.
Board of Directors
Denise Cochran is a Minnesota native and snowbird who is currently in 5 choirs (MN) and 2 choirs (AZ). She credits her grandmother singing to her when she was little to giving her a love of music. She is a retired school counselor, both in Minnesota and in International overseas schools. Denise is married (also to a retired educator) and they have 2 Cardigan Welsh Corgis. When not singing, you will find her playing bad golf and even worse pickleball. Denise uses her guitar and her therapy dog as she volunteers at hospice organizations in both states.
Elaine A. Powers, originally from Peoria, IL, currently resides in Oro Valley, AZ. Earning degrees in science and music, she worked as a laboratory biologist, while enjoying singing and theater. Elaine is now pursuing her dream of writing science-based children’s books and murder mysteries as well as continuing her work as a citizen scientist for international iguana conservation. Her website is www.elaineapowers.com and her videos are on YouTube (Elaine Powers, Curtis Curly-tail Speaks).
Lauri Latack has participated in the evolution of AWC over the past 25 years. She has been actively involved in singing and dancing performing groups since childhood and has held many leadership positions in both areas. She received her MS in Speech Language Pathology from the University of Michigan having a private practice specializing in accent modification. Lauri has had careers in marketing, executive level management and was a co-owner of a designer lingerie firm, creating styles and overseeing production. Travel, writing poetry, music, cooking and all types of creative endeavors are her passions. She has two children both living in NYC which offers many exciting opportunities for exploring her interests.
Susan Cochran is from Dallas, Texas and lived there until her family moved to Tucson 23 years ago. She is married to Brian and they have a daughter Kathleen and son-in-law, Matt. She is a former public school teacher who taught Special Education and third grade for twelve years in a Dallas suburb. Susan more recently has taught adults the Bible for eight years with the organization Bible Study Fellowship. Susan loves to travel and is looking forward to doing so again soon. She loves to read and do needlework. And of course, Susan loves to sing! She has been in the Arizona Women’s Chorus for many years and also sings in her church choir.
Els Duvigneau was born and raised in the Netherlands. She retired from her nursing career in 2017 after having worked for 44 years in several different countries and in different specialties, the most satisfying one to her was a long stent in oncology nursing. Besides singing and listening to music, Els loves to go to plays and movies, make jewelry, read and spend time with her two grand- daughters. She likes to say active by hiking, biking, practicing yoga and swimming. She is a board member at the local Rogue theater and volunteers at the Assistance League of Tucson.
Carol Swanson was born and lived in Colorado until she moved to Tucson in 1991. Professionally, she held a position as an Environmental Health Sanitarian (Larimer County Health Department) before she embarked on her career as a Pediatrician (Denver Children’s Hospital, UofA College of Medicine, Casas Adobes Pediatrics). She is very passionate about treasuring each day, maintaining hope, joy & optimism, caring, learning, having determination and tolerance, loving her family and others, and striving for the best. In her free time, she enjoys reading, playing the piano, walking, biking, doing needlepoint, and spending time with friends & family. She also participates on the Casa de los Ninos Board of Directors, volunteers at The West, and travels when there’s no pandemic, especially to explore the outdoors. SAWC has given her the opportunity to make music and friendships with a wonderful group of women.
Michael Melton has been active throughout his career as a conductor, singer, pianist, coach, and teacher. He is recently retired from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago where he he served as Director of Choral Activities and Opera Conductor and taught voice, conducting, diction, and secondary methods. He continues his summer work in Chicago as score reader for video productions of Chicago Symphony Orchestra concerts at the Ravinia Festival. He enjoys spending the winter months in Tucson, AZ.