Founded in the fall of 1989, Another Octave: Connecticut Women's Chorus celebrates its choices and experiences through the power of music. Open to all women, the chorus performs an eclectic repertoire, including standard concert pieces as well as traditional and contemporary music which reflects women's lives.
Members come from varied backgrounds and lifestyles, and bring with them differing degrees of musical training. Together, we work for musical excellence , and perform for the pleasure of our audiences and ourselves.
Lydia Smith-Franks, Artistic Director
As artistic director of AO since 1992, Lydia says, “My real music education takes place in life: singing everywhere I can, playing flute for anyone who asks, and studying all of those great musicians I meet who turn out to be intentional and unintentional mentors.” Having started out life in a playpen situated beneath the baby grand piano in the living room, Lydia contends that music is genetic: “mom was a choir director and pianist/organist, grandmother was an opera singer and sister is a songwriter.” Lydia also has formal credentials: degrees in music history and flute performance from the State University of New York at Fredonia and Florida state University. With this background she thought her path would be orchestral but soon after the academic world released her she caught the choral bug. Once a minor player in her musical life, choral music has now become its focus. Music is not only work, but a passion and a lifestyle. “A major part has been Another Octave, which has carried me through the last 22 years with much joy. I am grateful to everyone involved for the love they have shared with me.”
Melinda Walwer, Assistant Artistic Director
Mindy has been with Another Octave: Connecticut Women's Chorus since the fall of 2002. Born and raised amidst the corn and soybean fields of Illinois, she found her life's calling while leading songs as a Brownie Scout. She attended Illinois State University, the University of Illinois, and the American Band College of Southern Oregon and Sam Houston State Universities where she earned degrees in music education, conducting, and the visual arts. After working for twelve years as a music director in Illinois, she moved to Connecticut to teach music to middle school students in the Amity Regional School District in Orange. When not wrangling teenagers, Mindy enjoys arranging and recording choral tunes for the women of Another Octave. Who has time for anything else?
Kris Montgomery, Assistant Artistic Director
A professional singer since 1982, Kris is a member of Actors’ Equity Association (theatrical union), Screen Actors Guild (film union), and the Dramatists Guild (as a playwright). Kris has acted, sung, and danced in 40 states and 10 countries, performed in regional theatres and on several Broadway National Tours, worked as an entertainer on a cruise ship, sung for the president of the United States, and starred as Eva Peron in two international tours of Evita. She was also a cast member of the PBS news magazine series In the Life. Connecticut appearances include the Oakdale Theatre and both the Rich Forum and the Palace Theatre in Stamford. Kris has also directed and musical directed numerous shows from Maine to New Jersey.
Kris studied acting at HB Studios in NYC, voice at Boston University and privately with opera singer Filippo DeStefano. She now works in the Information Technology Dept. for Smilow Cancer Hospital Care Centers, a division of Yale New Haven Hospital, and is the proud mother of 3 daughters. Kris is happy to have been a part of Another Octave since 2003.