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Philomela was founded in 1976 as a women's chamber consort of ten singers, performing primarily Renaissance music. Based in the Washington, D.C. area, Philomela took its name from Greek mythology. Philomela, the daughter of an Athenian king, was transformed into a nightingale and sang her way through eternity. Though it is not yet “eternity,” three members of the early Philomelans still participate, two as active singers. The current group maintains a roster of 12 – 16 singers. An important mission of the group is to perform music written for, about, and/or by women, and it also enjoys featuring works of living composers.

Known for its eclectic programming using a thematic approach, Philomela's repertoire now runs the gamut from Classical music to contemporary, folk, pop, and Broadway. Often incorporating narrative and poetry, programs span topics that are serious to whimsical. Themes take audiences on poignant musical journeys through life's events and issues including love and romance, work, the environment, social justice, and peace.

Philomela has performed at The White House, The Kennedy Center, The National Museum of Women in the Arts, The National Portrait Gallery, the Folger Shakespeare Theater, and historic sites including Woodlawn and Sully Plantations, and Mount Vernon. Though primarily a choral ensemble, Philomela performed the staged musical Quilters by Newman and Damashek in numerous venues in D.C., Virginia, and New York. This work was a blend of the principles Philomela holds dear: the bond of women's voices and women's lives joined in song.

If you would like to consider Philomela for your concert series or special event, please find our addresses on our Contact Us Page.

Philomela is open to new members throughout the year. To audition, please contact us for more information. You will find addresses on our Contact Us link on this web site.


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