In memory of Julie Dowell

To the Members, alumnx, and friends of The Quire:

We bear the sad news of Julie Dowell’s passing, after an intense conflict with cancer. Her time in hospice saw many Members of The Quire visit, and we arranged a small group to sing to her in June — she got to enjoy one of her favorite songs, along with some of The Quire’s classics. Below is the information for services.

Services for Julie Dowell

Funeral Ceremony @ Zion Lutheran Church
(310 N Johnson St, Iowa City, IA 52245)
July 11th, 2021 — 1:00 PM

Julie’s work sustained many parts of The Quire over the years and we may have looked very different today had she not given so generously with her time, skills, and dollars. Her dedicated service over the years was deeply impactful, and the Board of Directors felt it was only appropriate to honor her work in the best way we could — naming an award in her honor.

We were glad to be able to present Julie with this certificate and a letter of gratitude, which Board Chair Nolan Petersen was able to give to her at a time when she could appreciate it still.

We look forward to awarding this in future years, in honor of Julie and her impact to The Quire.

Pandemic Delayed, The Quire still celebrates 25 Years



The Quire
Nolan Petersen, Board Chair

Headline: Pandemic Delayed, The Quire still celebrates 25 Years

The Virtual Quire Project brings the music online

Iowa City, IA – The Quire has debuted The Virtual Quire Project — the first online-only performance in the group’s history — in celebration of the COVID-delayed 25 year anniversary of the organization. Available at, the song performed, A Song of Life, is part larger song cycle, commissioned for the anniversary celebration and written with stories and experiences from Members of The Quire.

While earlier celebrations of the milestone year were put on hold due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, The Quire’s Board of Directors and Members knew the music couldn’t stop there. Under the leadership of Virtual Quire Project Director, Colleen McRoberts, Members of The Quire and guest singers rehearsed and recorded the first song in the cycle Songs of Our Pride, commissioned in commemoration of The Quire’s 25 years. Composed by Connor Warren Smith, a queer musician and composer based in Los Angeles, the song cycle was created using stories and experiences gathered from Members of The Quire. 

As Audra King, longtime Member of The Quire and active in the organization’s leadership, writes, “As I gathered stories – from Quire Members new and established – it was like Connor lived them as he wrote. As a queer musician, he understood what each of us talked about.”

Original celebrations were planned for June, July, and December of 2020. As with many nonprofit arts organizations, all programming was cancelled after The Quire’s last concern in February 2020, which honored longtime civil rights activist and gay man, Bayard Rustin. The Quire has tentatively planned for a live concert later this year — including a full debut of Songs of Our Pride — along with other standards and highlights from The Quire’s performances over the years. 

As singing is one of the riskiest group activities to do when an airborne disease is the concern, the pandemic impact to The Quire has been significant, both operationally and financially. Nolan Petersen, Chair of The Quire’s Board of Directors say, “The Virtual Quire Project may be a different experience than a live concert, but the opportunity to perform this celebratory work is one we are proud to share.” And with music that speaks to some universal truths about LGBTQ+ experiences, The Quire hopes to hear this music performed by groups across the globe in years to come. As King writes, “Every measure, every note – was breathtaking [as Connor wrote it.] It was nothing short of magic – and we are grateful for the gift he gave us.”

– – –

About Connor Warren Smith, composer:
Connor Warren Smith is an internationally-recognized composer, arranger, performer, and studio vocalist active in the greater Los Angeles area. Connor’s choral arrangements, both published and commissioned, are performed worldwide by groups of all sizes and skill-levels. Aside from his work as a composer, Connor is probably most known first and foremost as a vocalist. A regular performer at the Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood, Connor has performed on stages both large and small across the globe. As an in-demand Los Angeles session singer, Connor’s voice has appeared in major motion pictures, television shows, albums, Disney Recordings®, and more. Learn more at

About The Quire:

The Quire (of Eastern Iowa) is an LGBTQ+ choral group based in Iowa City. Founded in 1995, under the direction of Rev. Rick Yramategui, The Quire quickly became known for performances which were both entertaining and message-driven, focusing on themes of justice, equality, and community pride. The Quire serves as one of the few LGBTQ+ community organizations in the area and is celebrating 25 years of choral excellence during 2020. The group maintains an open membership policy which does not require musical testing or financial capacity to join. More information about The Quire can be found at 


Welcome back, maybe?

Hello, Quire Members and extended family!

It is that time of year where, under normal circumstances, we would be gathering again for another year of music, community, and continuing our long tradition of being over-eager in greeting the new people who come to our first rehearsals. Alas, the scourge of the novel coronavirus continues to make such gatherings difficult, so we are having to take a different approach this year. The Board, however, remains committed to building an experience which still connects us all throughout this year, which will include musical elements, social elements, and even opportunities to push forward a central part of our organization’s mission — fighting for (and learning about) justice in our communities!
With that in mind, I re-start these announcement emails with a few opportunities and some notes for the Membership to keep in mind. Please read and reach out if you have any questions!

Leadership looks good on you! 

The work of The Quire is made possible by volunteers like you! This year, we have two Board committees which could use your expertise and insight. Committees will meet once a month via Zoom to push forward the various topics that will generate proposals for the Board to consider. Committee work like this is not only a great way to have a direct impact on how The Quire works, but is also a way to get involved in leadership that may be more accessible for folks who have been interested in serving in leadership in the past, but felt it was a daunting opportunity. The current committees are:

  • The Finance Committee, chaired by the Board Treasurer, will be the driving force for the financial well-being of The Quire. This committee will be handling both the formal budgeting and financial recommendations for the Board, and will also be key to the fundraising discussions in the organization. No formal background in financial work is needed, but it may be helpful. Anyone interested, please reach out to Amanda Schneider, Board Treasurer, at
  • The Membership Committee will be focused on engagement this year — ensuring Members have adequate social opportunities, meaningful connections to the larger organization and within their sections, and the organization’s connections to the larger community! Planning of socials, organizing volunteers, and brainstorming ideas for engagement will be a major part of this committee’s work. Anyone interested, please reach out to Emily Jasper, Board Vice Chair, at

 So… what is this season going to look like? 

The Quire’s 2020-2021 Season is, like much of the world, going to look unlike anything we have experienced before. The Board is continuing to formulate what we can reasonably achieve, in combination with the Artistic Staff and other supports. As a tentative outlining of changes to the season, the Board is considering:

  • Holding back on a full Winter Concert and instead trying to evaluate the possibility of an alternative performance, whether recorded and debuted or presented in curated live segments. Either option requires significant planning to present something that highlights the skills and message of The Quire.
  • Hosting casual, socially focused Zoom gatherings and — when appropriate and open to those who are comfortable — in-person gatherings to continue our sense of connectedness and community.
  • Presenting Zoom-based discussions and workshops around various topics featuring local and regional facilitators.
  • Evaluating if a 25th Anniversary Celebration will truly be feasible for the Spring Concert, or if we will need to hold off again to ensure the wonderful commissioned work gets the appropriate spotlight.
  • Focusing specific energy around fundraising to ensure our financial foundation is well-maintained for whatever the future presents to us — whether GALA Festival in 2021, internal investments in music or staffing, or other opportunities which a healthy financial position would make possible.

 How to stay engaged 

The Quire is full of opportunities to stay engaged with what’s going on — some of it hands on, some of it just easy viewing!

  • Board Meetings have resumed on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month, from 4:30 – 6 PM. Link to this information can be found on the Chorus Connection Home Page, and can also be found here. These meetings are open and anyone is welcome to call in to listen to the Board at work.
  • Volunteer opportunities are available to support The Quire. Currently, The Board is seeking:
    • Development Assistant, who will help track donor information, donations, and help acknowledge the wonderful donors who support our work. This position can have multiple people involved, and will likely be working closely with the Treasurer and other Board Members.
    • Social Media Support, who will help post and generate content for the social media platforms utilized by The Quire. This will be a light-duty volunteer role, but will require some previous experience using Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
    • Music Librarian, who will be the point-person cataloging, distributing, and collecting the music made available to singers. This role is likely to be a little heavy to get started in, but a new person will have plenty of support from the Board and Artistic Staff — and once the role is familiarized, it should be a generally limited ask on someone’s time.
  • Please email Emily Jasper, Vice-Chair, at if you are interested in volunteering in any of these roles!

We, as the Board, are also open to feedback, concerns, and ideas about the upcoming season. Recognizing that this will be unlike any other year, it is important that any ideas be given the chance to help us make the best of oddball of a year. Please consider lending your thoughts, your time, your energy, or other support to The Quire to make this 2020-2021 Season just as memorable as those in years past.

Yours in song,
Nolan Petersen (he/him/his)
Chair, Board of Directors, The Quire
C: 319.853.8619  |

2020 Annual Membership Meeting

For the first time, The Quire held a virtual voting and membership meeting due to the circumstances of novel coronavirus/COVID-19. This screen recording not only will serve as the record of the meeting but will be available for the public to see how we work!

Learn more about us here, at, where you can also donate to our organization — the longest running LGBTQ+ focused nonprofit in Iowa City and the only formally organized LGBTQ+ choral organization in Eastern Iowa.

Slideshow for the meeting can be accessed here.

1:32 — Introductions
21:13 — Year in Review
~~ 25:27 — Financial Review
32:05 — Year Ahead
43:30 — Election and Bylaw Amendment Results
50:20 — Closing Announcements
~~ 54:45 — Gratitude & Acknowledgments
1:02:20 — Good for the Welfare

Music (and other items) Amnesty

The Quire is calling all singers, friends, family, neighbors, strangers…. whomever you may be! Do you have music from The Quire? Perhaps a folder that you borrowed and didn’t get returned? Maybe even some outfits that are taking up space in your closet??

It’s the Quire’s Musical (and other items) Amnesty! With no judgement, no shame, and no negative vibes at all, The Quire humbly requests you to take a quick look through your files and see what bits and pieces might need to be returned to us. Then hop onto this form and let us know, tell us how you’d like to return them (by mail, by pickup, or by delivery), and we’ll be in touch!

If you have items that perhaps were in your possession but seem to have found… other homes… we just ask you to consider making a donation to help cover the cost of replacing those items. Donations can be made right here, on, and will go toward supporting the work we have been doing for 25 years!

We are asking everyone — current singers, past singers, guest singers, visitors, and more — to return any and all property of The Quire so we have can do a full inventory! This may includes items such as:

  • Music
  • Folders
  • Equipment
  • Outfits (concert attire or otherwise)
  • Event materials
  • Paperwork or documents

We are also looking for photos, articles, videos, and more to help populate our (future) archive of Quire history — a recording of the work that has been done for the last 25 years and how we will aim to sustain the work for another 25 years and beyond!

The Quire of Eastern Iowa presents “Out of the Shadows”


You are invited to a very special event where storytelling takes center stage. In Part One, The Quire is honored to not only perform works from the renowned Maya Angelou, but to also share the stage and sing with local esteemed musicians.

In the second half, we are pleased to share the work of Steve Milloy, and the story of Bayard Rustin. Julia’s grandson, born in March of 1912, grew into a visionary, a proponent of nonviolent protest, a co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) with Dr. Martin Luther King in 1947, and the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington.

Join us as we bring these amazing narratives out of the shadows…and into the light.

If you would like to RSVP or get regular updates, connect with us on Facebook.  Hope to see you there!

Hearing Hope in Troubled Times

2018 - April - Phoenix Poster

The Quire is pleased to announce that we have been invited to perform with Phoenix, Colorado’s Trans Community Choir, as part of their first choir tour! We are excited to join together in sharing our love of music and our commitment to choral excellence.

Facebook Event:

Phoenix is an intergenerational collaborative social justice chorus who performs frequently at community events, often material composed by choir members. Not exactly a traditional chorus, Phoenix is more of a safe space to take risks of self-exploration—whether around gender and identity, creativity and voice, or leadership and community building. Although many of its members are trans-identified, the choir is home for anyone who does not fit neatly into the gender binary, as well as all those touched by trans issues, including partners, parents, friends, and allies.

If you can join us (we hope you can!), there will be a light reception afterwards where you can grab a bite and chat with any of the choir members.

Freewill Offerings Accepted.


Meet The Quire’s new accompanist!

two-pianistsWhether tonight is your first concert, or you’ve been a fan and supporter for years – there will be something new besides our music!

Leslie Hyland joins us as our esteemed accompanist, and she’s pretty great.  If you would like to know more about her, keep reading.  And be sure to say hello to her if you get the chance!

Are you originally from Iowa? If so, where? If not, where did you grow up?
I am originally from Wisconsin. My family then lived in Arkansas and we moved to Iowa at the end of my sixth grade year. We lived in Swisher and I graduated from Prairie High School. I have been living in Iowa City for the last 4 years.

How long have you been involved in music? Have you done anything else musically besides your current focus?
I’ve been playing the piano for almost 25 years. I also play the oboe and English Horn and am trying to teach myself the saxophone. Additionally, I have been teaching drumline for the past few years, focusing on working with the front pit ensemble. So lots of music!

What’s your favorite kind of music (or your favorite artist)?
It would be really hard for me to pick one favorite kind of music or artist. One genre I really enjoy is Bluegrass/Folk and one of my favorite artists in that style is Sarah Jarosz. I also listen to a lot of classical music (especially at work) and like anything that is fun to sing along to (musicals included)!

How did you get connected to The Quire? How long have you been in your current position with the group?
I actually remember very distinctly seeing a poster advertising the group on one of the city buses a few years back. I was very interested at the time in finding a way to be a part of the group. After meeting with the director, and hearing her talk about inclusivity and building bridges, I am excited to be a part of the group!

What’s your favorite thing about being connected to the group?
Other than the fact that I love being involved with music, I think it’s going to be a group full of people I want to know! I’m also glad to be connected to the LGBTQIA community in this area.

What’s the location of your favorite vacation spot to date? Name one place you would like to go.
I would say that my favorite place to visit (other than going to see family) is Washington, D.C. since I love museums and US History. There isn’t really anywhere I wouldn’t go, but Italy and New Orleans are definitely high up the list.

Do you know any other languages or would you like to learn one?
I took German throughout high school, and a little French, Italian, and Latin in college. But I haven’t really retained much to be honest! Mostly it’s just helped me with pronunciation.

If you could share one final thought (favorite quote, life lesson, etc.), what would it be?
Always treat others the way you would like to be treated, and always treat yourself the way you would treat your best friend.

Raising Voices, Lifting Spirits

From the invigorating “Lift Every Voice and Sing” through “Ashokan Farewell”, a piece that invokes a departure from loss and longing, this event will share a selection of moving and inspirational music.

In its mission to honor the voices of our LGBT community through excellence in choral music, The Quire invites you into an evening centered around Beauty, Grace, Hope and a celebration of spirit.

If you would like to RSVP on Facebook, click here:

We hope that you will be able to join us this coming Saturday!

Call for Singers!

The Quire is gearing up for our new season – and we’d love it if you would join us!  If you’ve ever thought about singing with us, feel free to attend one of our first three rehearsals.  Hope to see you soon!

Recruitment Poster - Fall 17

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