By Lisa Kava
Upper West Sider Sally Hoskins, a retired biology professor, loves to sing. In 1998, while teaching full-time at the City University of New York, she established a women’s chorus made up primarily of other Upper West Siders. Called SHE Women’s Vocal Ensemble, the chorus performed two concerts a year at churches on the Upper West Side until 2005. When Hoskins retired from teaching in 2019, she decided to reactivate the group.
On Saturday, March 4th at 2 PM, the SHE Women’s Vocal Ensemble will perform a free acapella concert called ENCORE at Christ & St. Stephen’s Church, 120 West 69th Street (between Columbus Avenue and Broadway.) Voluntary donations are appreciated and will go to World Central Kitchen, the food disaster and relief organization. (WSR did a story about WCK here.)
Hoskins originally created SHE Women’s Vocal Ensemble by bringing in singers from another Upper West Side-based choir called New Amsterdam Singers. She recruited members who wished to branch out with their singing. “Choral singing is addictive,” she told WSR in an email. “I’ve sung in choruses since I was a child.” The name SHE stands for “Sally Hoskins’ Ensemble,” and is fitting since the chorus comprises only women. They perform a wide range of music, including: “Say Her Name by Alysia Lee,” which honors and remembers women and men of color who have been victims of police gun violence, and “Unter Dayne Vayse Stern,” a piece written during the Holocaust.
Every concert has a “sponsor” — a charity to which fundraising efforts are directed. Past sponsors have included Dress for Success, God’s Love We Deliver, and Doctors Without Borders. “When the Ukraine war started a year ago and World Central Kitchen went into action, we were inspired to put on a concert in the fall of 2022 to honor and support them,” Hoskins wrote. “The retired teacher in me wants to make sure it is clear that no one is sponsoring us. We sponsor them. They benefit. We send 100% of collected monies directly to the sponsored organization.” Audience members who would like to support World Central Kitchen can do so during intermission.
Hoskins’ plan is for SHE Women’s Vocal Ensemble to again perform two concerts a year. After a 17-year hiatus, many of the singers who have returned to the chorus participated in the original ensemble. Eight out of the eleven singers who will perform on Saturday live on the Upper West Side.