Women at the University of Cincinnati who have a sincere interest in music and a desire for lasting friendships need look no further than the Eta-Iota chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity, a professional organization open to all female students who have enrolled in at least one course in music during their time at UC.
The UC chapter of SAI was formed in 1955 when the Eta chapter of the College of Music merged with the Iota chapter of the Conservatory of Music. The merger between the two schools produced the College-Conservatory of Music, and, just as CCM’s name is hyphenated, the two SAI chapters became the Eta-Iota chapter.
Members of SAI meet regularly to conduct business and to participate in social events and fundraisers. Eta-Iota holds business meetings every two weeks to plan events and conduct other chapter business; the chapter also holds social events and fundraisers about once a month. For October, the sisters of Eta-Iota plan to visit a pumpkin patch. The chapter also volunteers as a group with MYCincinnati, a free youth orchestra program in Price Hill.
CCM piano performance major Marissa Kerbel is the president of the Eta-Iota chapter, and she values not only the professional side of the organization but also the sisterhood she has found.
“We are incredibly supportive of one another, attending each other’s recitals and encouraging each other when rehearsals become intense,” Kerbel said.
“The women of Eta-Iota have become like a family to me, and it is always nice to see your family around campus every day and know that there is such love and support coming from them, even when we are at our busiest and most stressed.”
The costs of joining Sigma Alpha Iota are very small when compared to some social sororities, whose annual costs can approach or even exceed $1,000. Eta-Iota’s membership fees are $125 per academic year, as well as a $50 pledging fee and a $250 initiation fee. These fees go towards membership materials upon initiation, as well as funding chapter events throughout the year.
SAI’s national philanthropic organization, Sigma Alpha Iota Philanthropies, Inc., seeks to promote the creation, performance and scholarship of music throughout the world through support of the MacDowell Colony for artists in New Hampshire, a triennial composition competition, providing support for musicians with special needs (including producing large-print and Braille sheet music) and contributing instruments and other materials to schools and musicians in developing countries.
The Eta-Iota chapter is planning its own special fundraising concert this year in honor of International Women’s Day on March 8; the chapter plans to perform works by female composers and donate the proceeds from the events to a local women’s organization.
Interested women should plan to attend at least one recruitment event to be considered eligible to become a member-in-training. Eta-Iota’s upcoming recruitment event is a hot chocolate social at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11, during which the women will make blankets to donate to those in need.
Sigma Alpha Iota is a well-known organization among musicians and supporters of music; there are approximately 125,000 members around the world, with over 220 active collegiate chapters and 114 alumnae chapters. Some famous members and honorary members of SAI include composer Libby Larsen, soprano Jessye Norman, singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow, contralto Marian Anderson, violinist Rachel Barton Pine and many more distinguished musicians.
“I know that wherever I go, there will be an SAI sister not too far away,” Kerbel said.
Story by CCM graduate student Alexandra Doyle