Dr. Catherine Roma Women Composers Commissioning Project

By  GALA Expert 

 June 27, 2023 


The mission of the Dr. Catherine Roma Women Composer Commissioning Project is to fund new collaborations between GALA member choruses and women composers, resulting in new works that celebrate diversity, promote social justice, and stir the human spirit.

The cover for


This banner features an image of Cathy Roma directing on the left side, which fades into the GALA Choruses logo on the left along with the text, "The Dr. Catherine Roma Women Composers Commissioning Project."

Join the Roma Commission Consortium

Join the Commissioning Consortium for the 2024 Roma Commission. Participation is on a sliding scale from $150-$450, and the commission by Elizabeth Alexander is completed! Want to know more? Here’s a glimpse of Elizabeth’s composition including a preview of the song and lyrics. Apply now!


Minnesota composer Elizabeth Alexander composed “Disenfranchised,” an original choral work that takes a direct look at the insidious, never-ending cycle of voter suppression. With wit, directness, and a touch of satire, this high-energy song calls out disenfranchisement for what it truly is: a power game with winners and losers, ever-changing rules, and underlying it all, the intent to exclude.

This moderately-difficult 3-4 minute piece is available in three different voicings (SATB, SSA, and TBB) designed to facilitate programming with combined, flexibly-voiced choirs of all ages.


  • Fall 2023—Performed locally by commissioning choirs in spring 2024
  • July 10-14, 2024—Performed at GALA Festival 2024.
    • Performing choirs arrive in Minneapolis a day early to rehearse with Elizabeth Alexander and Cathy Roma. (NOTE: performing slots are full for Festival 2024)

Why voting rights?

Coretta Scott King said, “Struggle is a never-ending process. Freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it in every generation.”

“We are living in the midst of a monumental retrenchment of human rights. This may seem new but it is not. We are stronger together. Let us now hold hands across what divides us. Let’s rise up, sing out and march on.”
—Dr. Catherine Roma

“We will not be passive in the face of injustice and allow every generation to fight the same battles. We will drive our communities to the polls and vote like the lives of our children depend on it because it does.”
―Janet Autherine, The Heart and Soul of Black Women: Poems of Love, Struggle and Resilience

“…any voter denied a say in democracy has been harmed, and a remedy is in order regardless of the effect on an electoral outcome.”
―Stacey Abrams, Our Time Is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair America

Elizabeth Alexander sits in a field of grass, smiling.

About Elizabeth Alexander

Elizabeth Alexander (b. 1962) grew up in the Carolinas and Appalachian Ohio. Her love of music, language and challenging questions is reflected in her catalog of over 150 compositions in a wide variety of classical and vernacular styles. Her commissions have included music for orchestras, chamber ensembles, solo voices, and especially her choral pieces, which have been performed by thousands of choruses worldwide.

Her theatrically-inclined works include the one-woman concert-length Nature Creature as well as dozens of theater songs pretending to be art songs and choral pieces. Her current project, Split Hickory, is set in present-day Appalachia, and draws from Americana and folk music styles from the past hundred years. Selections from Split Hickory were recently workshopped at Nautilus Music-Theater’s Rough Cuts (Minneapolis). A more indepth reading and workshop in scheduled for Fall 2022 at Shawnee State University (Portsmouth, Ohio).

Elizabeth’s text settings of both original lyrics and the words of others prompted Choral Director Magazine to write that “her mastery of prosody and declamation results in a marriage between music and text that is dynamic and indelible.” Other reviewers have described her music as “brilliantly innovative” (New York Concert Review), “truly inspired” (Boston Intelligencer) and “stunning…exquisite…sculpting light into sound” (Kansas City Metropolis).

She studied composition with Jack Gallagher at The College of Wooster, and with Steven Stucky, Yehudi Wyner and Karel Husa at Cornell University, from which she received her doctorate in Music Composition. She has received grants, awards and fellowships from the McKnight Foundation, Jerome Foundation, New Music USA, Minnesota State Arts Board, New York Council on the Arts, Wisconsin Arts Board, National Orchestral Association, International League of Women Composers and American Composers Forum.

Elizabeth lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where she practices yoga, makes pretty good biscuits, and looks for all kinds of excuses to visit her two grown sons.

More at www.elizabethalexander.com/biography.

About Dr. Catherine Roma

For over 40 years, Dr. Catherine Roma has created vibrant choral communities that reach across barriers of race, religion, class, sexual orientation and age. She works to translate the values of social justice and inclusion into fundamental experiences of community for both audience and singers. She does this through music that spans a wide variety of styles and cultures and through strategic efforts to develop membership and audiences that reflect rich diversity.

Cathy became one of the founding mothers of the women’s choral movement, an international network of over 70 women’s choruses, when she started Anna Crusis Women’s Choir in her native Philadelphia in 1975. She founded MUSE Cincinnati’s Women’s Choir in 1983 after coming to Ohio to do graduate work at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music where she completed her Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in 1989.

Catherine is Professor of Music, Emerita at Wilmington College. Through her long association at Wilmington, Catherine founded and directed UMOJA Men’s Chorus at Warren Correctional Institution, in Lebanon, Ohio (1993-2016). After her retirement from the college and MUSE, and prior to the pandemic, Roma founded and conducted choirs inside three Ohio prisons. Currently she conducts NIA Men’s Chorus at Chillicothe Correctional Institution.

Roma served as Minister of Music at St. John’s Unitarian Universalist Church in Cincinnati for 29 years, and was co-founder and co-director of the Martin Luther King Coalition Chorale for 22. In 2012 Roma founded and conducts the 100-voice World House Choir in Yellow Springs, OH.

Roma believes choral singing, the power of the human voice raised in song, brings diverse people together to inspire change; it is a balm that heals and transforms our world and ourselves. Singing together changes the air we breathe. Think globally, sing locally.

Roma Commission Mission

The mission of the Dr. Catherine Roma Women Composer Commissioning Project is to fund new collaborations between GALA member choruses and women composers, resulting in new works that celebrate diversity, promote social justice, and stir the human spirit. Project participants will honor the work of Catherine Roma by:

  • Giving all GALA chorus members the opportunity to participate in commissioning a work of music by a woman composer.
  • Helping to nurture, support and cultivate women composers by valuing their talent, giving them exposure, performing their music, and giving them a platform to compose music that explores topics that make a difference in the lives of women.
  • Build community by connecting choirs across the nation as they co-commission a work to be performed in their home towns and on the GALA stage – a shared experience that guarantees multiple performances of a new work.

2024 Roma Commission Consortium Choirs – Apply now!

  • Calliope Women’s Chorus • Minneapolis MN
  • Voices of Note • Atlanta GA
  • Grand Rapids Women’s Chorus • Grand Rapids MI
  • San Diego Women’s Chorus • San Diego CA
  • Seattle Women’s Chorus • Seattle WA
  • Sistrum, Lansing Women’s Chorus • Lansing MI
  • Turtle Creek Chorale • Dallas TX
  • Voices Rising • Arlington MA
  • AnnaCrusis Feminist Chorus • Philadelphia, PA
  • Artemus • Chicago, IL
  • MUSE: Cincinnati Women’s Choir • Cincinnati, OH
  • New Mexico Women’s Chorus • Albuquerque, NM
  • Orlando Gay Chorus • Orlando, FL
  • Our Voice Milwaukee • Milwaukee, WI
  • Windy City Performing Arts • Chicago, IL
  • Women In Harmony • Portland, ME

Support the Roma Commission Fund

Make a donation to support future commissioning projects or submit payment for the Roma Commissioning Consortium.