Mollie Stone serves as Choral Conductor and Lecturer at the University of Chicago. She has also taught with Village Harmony since 2009 and joined the VH executive team in 2021. Mollie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Amherst College, a Master of Music degree in conducting from Westminster Choir College, a Doctorate in choral conducting from Northwestern University, and has studied at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. Stone wrote her dissertation on how Black South Africans have adapted the choral music of the anti-apartheid struggle to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In 2001, Mollie received a grant from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation to produce a teaching DVD (Vela Vela) that helps musicians across the world learn and teach Black South African choral music more authentically in the oral tradition. Stone, alongside Patty Cuyler, has since created additional teaching materials (the Raising the Bar series through The Choral Imperative) that help singers learn about the music of the Republic of Georgia, Bulgaria, and South Africa. Mollie works at home and abroad to facilitate collaborations, projects, and programs that allow singers to study the music of other traditions by working directly with tradition bearers, and to provide tradition bearers with platforms and resources that support them in sharing their music on their own terms.
Patty Cuyler—director of Village Harmony—was born in California and educated at Princeton University. A long-time resident of Vermont and a resident of the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago since 2011, Patty is an energetic, dynamic workshop leader and choral director and is internationally-renowned for her expertise in teaching Corsican, Georgian and South African music. She is now VH’s sole director after being co-director since 1995; over the years she spear-headed the expansion of the organization’s reach into the four corners of the globe. She started the Boston-area chorus Boston Harmony in 2005, and in 2013 with Mollie Stone co-founded the Chicago World Music Chorus to have a project closer to home. Patty has compiled and edited a massive library of transcriptions of traditional Georgian, Balkan and South African music and co-edited two volumes of The Folk Rhythm, four volumes of the Raising the Bar series of book+dvd publications and two book+cd collections of Georgian folk and sacred music. More recently it was Patty's vision and labor that shaped Village Harmony's response to the recent pandemic years and launched the organization's far-reaching online programs.
Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, Lonnie Norwood, Jr. is an in-demand clinician of African American folk/sacred music, helping educators and ensembles understand the historical significance, incomparable West African influences, vocal techniques, and the Black liberation aspects behind the vast collection. Lonnie is a member of the NAACP and the NANM (National Association of Negro Musicians). Lonnie joined the artistic staff at Chicago Children's Choir as a conductor in 2012 and opened its vivacious Englewood Neighborhood Choir in 2013; more recently he was appointed CCC's Director of Africana Studies and conductor of the Lincoln Park/DePaul Neighborhood Choir. In 2015 Lonnie established Audacious Praise, a multicultural arts outreach organization based in Chicago's South Side creating accessible, intergenerational programming that impacts social & spiritual unification in marginalized communities. He serves as Music Director at Bryn Mawr Community Church in the South Shore community (Chicago), and is in partnership with Old Town School of Folk Music bringing the Freedom Songbook Society to his community in South Shore. Norwood also conducts workshops with high schools, colleges and universities, notably Harvard University, Indiana University, and Temple University, and community choirs around the United States. He has recently lectured for various branches of the ACDA (American Choral Directors Association) and FMEA (Future Music Educators Association). More information can be found at lonnienorwood.com.
It was amazing how much you did with us in an afternoon. I listened to the recording and it sounded so good considering the speed in which we learned those songs. You are both such wonderful teachers and musicians.
Your leadership continues to be inspiring. I love all that you know and the sounds we create because of you. I love the people you bring together. I love the music we sing. I come home feeling deeply rooted—and also ready to go flying off to another country to meet new people and sing their music!
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Patty and Mollie! The concert was wonderful, the recording sounds amazing. The CWMC is one of my great joys in life.
Thank you. Thank you. I always come away from singing with you feeling more happy, more grounded, more connected to life around me -- it's amazing.
Yesterday's rehearsal was so much fun! I learned so much and it was probably the most fun I've ever had in a rehearsal. There was great music, great people -- you will definitely see me next month.