Patti Sax probably didn’t realize that she was combining two loves—music and travel—when she joined the Orinda Women’s Chorale (now WomenSing) in 1996. Two years later, Patti, a former airline attendant, volunteered to handle the internal tour management duties when the group toured China in 1998 under the direction of David Morales. These responsibilities “settled comfortably in my lap and I loved it!” During Morales’s tenure the group also traveled to Canada and Mexico. Martin Benvenuto took over as Artistic Director of WomenSing in 2002, and kept the group’s suitcases packed with trips to his native Argentina, Spain and Washington, D.C.
She particularly recalls the last night at the International Choral Festival in Cantonigros, Spain. WomenSing was assigned a small area in a large tent while waiting to perform—a wait that lasted for hours. “There were no creature comforts in this tent but we all kept a positive attitude and maintained our collective sense of humor and focus for the performance.” When WomenSing took the stage at 11:30 p.m. to sing Nigra Sum, a particularly meaningful piece to the people of Catalonia, “the crowd loved it and I was so proud of us! There was a real connection between WomenSing and the audience because they appreciated that we understood their song and had delivered it so well.”
The journey has been musical as well as geographical. “With Martin as Artistic Director,” Patti says, “we’ve all grown technically and artistically as singers. It’s both demanding and rewarding.” Patti adds, “It’s a wonderful community of women whose natural bond is further strengthened by the experience of singing together. We really do have to be ‘in tune’ with each other. I don’t think this kind of bond would exist in a mixed group.”
Patti served as Board President early in her association with the group, agreeing to serve without benefit of first attending a board meeting. She lost her mentor when the past president took a medical leave, which led to a sometimes uncomfortable but ultimately “wonderful opportunity for me to tap into skills and strengths I didn’t know I had.” She served as president again in 2006-2007, and currently serves as operations co-chair.
Patti rates The Blue Eye of God as a favorite WomenSing piece. “I like songs with a message and this one is about the sea and man’s responsibility to the creatures that live there. I guess that’s why I am also so passionate about the Youth Inspiring Youth Project. It combines educating youth to be environmentally conscious with the creation of art, poetry and new music.”
As Patti knows, combining good things—like music and travel—can really make a heart sing.