The fabulous trio of John McDonald (piano), Scott Woolweaver (viola) and myself (girl singer). We perform mostly music written for us–all 21st century–and also do improvisations at the end of most concerts. Since 2004.

 Sunday, January 27 at 3:30; Slosberg Auditorium, Brandeis University

What a pleasure to come back to a piece after some years and find deeper understanding as I rework it.  Dana Maiben wrote “The Green House” and recently won the Miriam Gideon Prize for it, so we get to do it again.  The poem, by Martha Collins of Cambridge, is a dreamscape in which one goes on over time, much as one would fall back asleep and return to the (somewhat) same dream.  One of  my favorite lines:

It wouldn’t be true.  The orphan in the story                                                           

is only a sign of trying to start things over,                                                             

as if you could do it yourself, without a mother.

         by Martha Collins, “The Green House”

Full info:

Music Composed by Women Past and Present 

The Annual Alfredo and Demitra DiLuzio Concert at the Slosberg Music Center, Brandeis University.  Presented by the Women and Music Mix of the Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center. 

This year’s concert will be curated by composer, violinist and conductor Dana Maiben, a WSRC Scholar and winner of the 2018 Miriam Gideon Prize for her composition “The Green House.” The concert will feature the Mockingbird Trio and guests performing the prize-winning composition along with new work by Maiben and other Boston area women. 

This concert is made possible thanks to the generous support of WSRC board co-chair Rosalie Ripaldi Shane, ’66, in honor of her uncle and aunt, Alfredo and Demitra DiLuzio. 

When: Sunday, January 27 at 3:30

Where: Slosberg Auditorium, Brandeis University

Admission: Pay What You Decide

Contact: Dana Maiben,

The 2019 Alfredo and Demitra DiLuzio Concert, “Composing Women,” will be performed on Sunday, January 27 at 3:30 at Brandeis University’s Slosberg Music Center, 415 South Street, Waltham, MA. The concert is curated by composer, violinist and conductor Dana Maiben, winner of the 2018 Miriam Gideon Prize for her composition The Green House. The concert will feature the Mockingbird Trio – Elizabeth Anker, Contralto, Scott Woolweaver, viola, and John McDonald, piano – and guests Deborah Boldin, flute, and Tracy McGinnis, bassoon, performing the prize-winning composition and Rebecca Clarke’s viola sonata, as well Concerto Incognito and La Donna Musicale performing earlier works. 

Dana Maiben is a Resident Scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center of Brandeis University, where The Green House was premiered in 2013.  The work is scored for Contralto, flute, bassoon, viola, and piano, and sets a group of poems by Cambridge-based poet Martha Collins. Woolweaver and McDonald will perform the monumental early 20th century Viola Sonata by Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979) in its 100th anniversary year. A concertizing violist herself, Clarke entered the Sonata in a contest sponsored by Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge in 1919. It tied for first place (with a work by Ernest Bloch) but the judges found it hard to believe it was written by a woman. The concert will also feature members of two other notable Boston-based ensembles, Concerto Incognito and La Donna Musicale, performing works by two 17th-century nuns, the Violin Sonata by Isabella Leonarda (1620-1704) and poetry by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1648-1695). Sor Juana was a self-educated poet, philosopher, and polymath of New Spain whose criticisms of the misogyny of the Church brought her great troubles. A substantial body of her poetry and prose but no musical compositions survive; Maiben’s Canciones de Amor, new settings of some of Sor Juana’s love poetry, will be premiered by Soprano Camila Paria and viola da gambist and WSRC Resident Scholar Laury Gutierrez on January 27. Maiben herself will take the stage alongside cellist Christien Beeuwkes and harpsichordist Frances Conover Fitch to perform the Violin Sonata by Isabella Leonarda. Leonarda rose to the position of Superiore in the Ursuline Convent in Novarre, and composed prolifically at least from age 50. The Violin Sonata has the distinction of being the first of its genre to be published by a woman. 

Admission to the concert is by donation to support the Music Programs of the WSRC: pay what you decide, no-one will be turned away. This concert, presented by the Women and Music Mix of the Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center, is made possible thanks to the generous support of WSRC board co-chair Rosalie Ripaldi Shane, ’66, in honor of her uncle and aunt, Alfredo and Demitra DiLuzio. The Women and Music Mix was founded at the Brandeis University Women’s Studies Research Center to study the contributions of women to the field of music as composers, performers, conductors, teachers, scholars, and sponsors. The Women and Music Mix consists of acclaimed music Scholars who have committed themselves to advancing and advocating for women in music. Members bring their pioneering work to the University and the wider public through lectures, concerts, conferences, publications, and recordings that highlight and explore issues of women and gender.

Composer, conductor, medieval fiddler, keyboardist, violinist and violist Dana Maiben, winner of the 2018 Miriam Gideon Prize, is a Resident Scholar of the Women’s Studies Research Center of Brandeis University, where her prize-winning composition The Green House was premiered in 2013. Her compositions include a chamber opera, Look and Long, based on the play by Gertrude Stein, instrumental chamber music, and music for dance and theater, for solo voice(s) and instrument(s), and for a capella voices. Maiben holds degrees from Smith College and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, with additional studies at Oberlin College Conservatory and the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. She counts medievalist Thomas Binkley, violinist Jaap Schroeder, choreographer Paula Josa Jones, and composers Ron Perera and Lou Harrison as important mentors. Hailed by the Boston Globe for her “supremely joyous artistry,” Maiben performs music from the 12th century to the 21st, conducts opera and oratorio, and has earned international recognition for her performances of 17th-century music. Her discography as a violinist includes sonatas by Francesca Danzi Lebrun (Dorian) and Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre (forthcoming). A dedicated teacher, Maiben serves on the faculty of the Longy School of Music of Bard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is Artistic Director of the ensemble for 17th century music, Concerto Incognito.


Folks, if you’ve been around me this century, you’ll know that a LOT of wonderful music has been written for me and my pals, Scott (Woolweaver) and John (McDonald), otherwise known as the Mockingbird Trio.

We are delighted to offer sound and links for you and any aspiring contralti, violists (and pianists who want to make music with their alto and violist friends).

Twelve songs on modern American poets were recorded live, and they are here on the website, along with links to the composers so you may contact them directly for sheet music.  Many of them have written a LOT of songs for us, like Fran Trester, who even wrote a 2-person opera called 334 Bunnies.

Donnie and Lizzie
Don Wilkinson as Officer O’Hare holding one of 334 Bunnies.  With Yours Truly as the eccentric bunny-hoarder.

If you know any contralti or violists, please direct them to this website.  We want to SHARE this wonderful material!

Thanks to Angie Flores of Adstrum Media for her help in putting the new site together, and love to all who knew Don.  Truly a wonderful colleague and friend.


mockingbird trio contralto and viola art songs 21st century
Mockingbird Trio are a boston-based trio that perform contralto and voila art songs of the 21st century.

What a delight to come together with my pals to revisit some delightful 21st century song cycles by Fran Trester and learn some new tunes!  Celebrating Scott Woolweaver’s birthday (Mr. Viola to you), John McDonald has written a gorgeous new tune on a poem of Scott’s friend,  Cheryl Savageau, called “Equinox”.  It’s about a goldfinch, natch, because we are all a bit bird- and nature-crazy in this trio.  John plays piano for the rest of the pieces, but this bird song is just contralto and viola and it might rival John’s “The Mockingbird of Mockingbirds”, which was written for a big birthday celebration of mine in 2004.

Here are the details for the two concerts, both at All Newton Music School 
321 Chestnut Street West Newton, MA 02465  (617) 527-4553

Sunday March 11, 3:00pm  Scott’s birthday bash with nice reception afterwards.  Free, lots of good music for viola and I will be part of the 2nd half.  Includes “Domestic Affairs” by Francine Trester (10 songs on domestic life, including raccoons in the garbage and a bird named Ruffles) and “Equinox” by John McDonald (premier, described above).

Friday March 23, 11:00am  All-Mockingbird Trio in an informal setting, which includes lunch afterward.  $30, reservations required.  Program includes Howard Frazin’s “A Wren” and “Lullaby”, song cycles about birds by Francine Trester and John McDonald, his new “Equinox” and “The Mockingbird of Mockingbirds”.  Some on poetry by Denise Levertov; Fran writes her own fabulous lyrics. Howard Frazin’s Viola Sonata is also featured (premier, also being heard on March 11 concert).

How fun is this?  For me, nothing more delightful than singing beautiful 21st century music that was written for me and my pals, on gorgeous texts and getting to play music with them again after a hiatus (John was on sabbatical,  after being dept. chair and other grown-up duties).

Mockingbird illustration by Lisa French.

Newton Public Library 3-2-14Beautiful new songs and favorites from our Mockingbird Trio “archives” including texts by Robert Frost, May Sarton and others.  Songs about animals, nature, awe, and wonder.  We’ve been rehearsing this program and delight in the beauty…as well as a few misty moments.

Beautiful drawing of a mockingbird, nestled in a blooming almond tree, with the words "Mockingbird Trio, Music of the 21st Century below"
Mockingbird Trio logo by Lisa French

We’ll be performing a new work by our esteemed colleague Francine Trester in the coming months.

Here’s how Fran describes it:

“A View from Heartbreak Hill, a cycle of six songs whose themes stem from the events of last year’s Boston Marathon attack.
The songs, scored for contralto, viola, and piano are reflections on the tragedy, a memorial to the victims, and an offering of hope.
“I wrote the words and music to the cycle – more of my work can be found at:
The performers are the Mockingbird Trio
along with pianist Lois Shapiro and violist Melissa Howe 
I think we have an interesting story to tell.
And we will be presenting it through three performances this year:
  • Berklee College of Music on Thursday February 20 (7:30 pm),
  • Newton Free Library on Sunday March 2 (2:00 pm), and
  • Harvard Business School on Thursday  April 10 (6:00 pm–private concert, limited availability for guests)

All performances are free.  
The March 2 event at the Newton Free Library will be a full concert by The Mockingbird Trio.

More news to come about this special cycle and its premiere.

15 singers in white shirts and red choir stoles gathered outdoors at the Boston Common to sing for peace
What the World Needs Now is Love, and other delights by Platinum Singers and Friends, conducted by Yours Truly

Ah, New England in the Fall…

The Platinum Singers sang at the International Day of Peace gathering on Boston Common, September 21, 2013. I conduct/direct this fabulous group, and we had some guest singers from the Singing for Seniors at our neighborhood branch library. There were liturgical dancers, the Raging Grannies and speakers at this beautiful event. Thanks to Ghanda DiFiglia who invited us to sing here.

I learned a lot, and especially about leaning on a portable keyboard–sometimes a drum set starts up at the oddest times! And I am also learning about placing singers in front of microphones. Okay! Some of us are pretty shy about those mics.

Last night I sang at a retirement party for a faculty member at Tufts–John McDonald asked if I’d sing “Death and the Maiden”, a famous Schubert song, before a string quartet played the movement of the same name. What a great, intense and dramatic piece, all rolled into 1 1/2 minutes! I should make a career of these memorable cameos. Very satisfying. Singing about death is nothing new to this contralto. We get the sad songs all the time. Next month, I’ll be singing Bach’s take on welcoming death, Schlummert Ein (from Cantata #82, Ich Habe Genug) at a benefit for MS research.

Moody seascape with three small figures in the lower left corner, including Professor Janet Schmalfeldt, and Weird Al Yankovic
Honoring Janet Schmalfeldt, “the Monk by the Sea” has been joined by Professor S and Weird Al Yankovic

PlatinumSingers1Happy New Year! I am delighted to be starting a new season with a new studio, a new job, new music written for me, and the return of many beloved students.

I inaugurate my new studio on Monday September 16–I have a good number of folks sign up for weekly lessons and still have room for the “occasional” student who wants a lesson every other week or every so often.  Address:  11A Medford Street, Arlington, at Mass Ave, just between The Regent Theater and The Book Rack.  Easy parking and a Starbucks on the corner.   I continue to see students at my Jamaica Plain studio as well.  Contact me if you’re interested in lessons at either location.

Two classes begin the week of  September 16th. Here are some flyers for the classes for seniors: BPL Fall 2013 flyer

Platinum Singers Fall 2013

At the New England Conservatory, we begin the Handel for Singers and Instrumentalists on September 25.

I am in that happy place of having sung Rosh Hashanah services with the Havurah on the Cape, been hosted and fed exquisite soul food (Challah, honey cake, matzoh balls, chopped liver, yum) and ready to do the even Bigger Sing, Yom Kippur. Cape Cod is a gorgeous place this time of the year, and the congregation is both traditional and modern, as they say, “Cape Coddish”. I sing old melodies and some of Bob Snyder’s from my Sudbury days, a couple of tunes from my students, Rabbi Minna Bromberg and Cantor Elana Rozenfeld, and even one of my own originals, entitled, “Song of the Sea.” It is an appropriate title for a havurah that is called Am HaYam (people of the sea).

I was recently hired to teach a class at the Simon Fireman Communityin Randolph for the Fall–more seniors singing–the best of Creative Aging!

Finally, I just received the score to a new song cycle for our Mockingbird Trio.  Francine Trester has written “A View from Heartbreak Hill,” for contralto, viola and piano.  Fran wrote words and music, and these six short songs are in response to the Marathon bombings of April 2013.  They are not all sad or morose–Fran is more skillful at conveying complicated emotions than just that.  She takes some of the commonly heard lines:  “if you see something, say something” and “look for the helpers” and brings us into the grand and mundane.  We plan to present these songs before the anniversary of the bombings.

Oh, yes, I joined Facebook.  Please “like” me on my page and something good will come of it.

Just yesterday the Platinum Singers performed a concert with the Boston City Singers at the Harriet Tubman House.  I hope to have pics and maybe a video later, but I can tell you, one of the “lunch ladies”, a senior who eats a hot lunch at the settlement house every weekday, announced, “This is exactly what we needed!” I got teary when Winnie Lowery read the first stanza of “Lifeline”, the Harriet Tubman song; others were touched by the Burt Bacharach/Hal David tune “What the world needs now is Love, sweet love”.  All I know is, we chose the program long ago, but it never is in bad taste to sing about love and courage.  Many of the Boston City Singers know the Richard family, as they are based in Dorchester, and Martin’s little sister sings in the youngest group of this chorus.  Great kids, great event.

Tuesday, April 30, something different:

April 30, 2013, 12:30 pm
Liberman-Miller Lecture Hall
Women’s Studies Research Center
Epstein Building, Brandeis University
public lecture
The Green House: A Conversation between Composer, Performer, and Poet
What happens when poetry becomes song? Composer and WSRC Visiting Scholar Dana Maiben invites Cambridge poet Martha Collins and singer Elizabeth Anker to compare notes and queries about Collins’s poems, “The Green House” and their musical settings by Maiben, slated for their world premiere at Brandeis February 3rd.
And Thursday, May 2, my newest, shiniest singing group/class at the Boston Public Library’s Jamaica Plain branch, will debut in a (very) short program starting at 7:00pm.  What a delight to be able to work with terrific mature singers all around the Boston area and have so much fun doing it.  We will perform show tunes and invite the audience to share in some Everly Brothers harmony.  Free!
Singing for Seniors will also be at the Wake up the Earth parade on Saturday May 4, at 10:30am, singing/cheering on the folks from the JP Library’s entrance in our first outdoor appearance.