As a young person Donia was immersed in a musical life. As a teenager she regularly played French Horn with semi-professional chamber and theater orchestras in the San Francisco Bay Area, and received numerous awards and honors. She received her formal music training at Northwestern University’s School of Music, with a specialization in French Horn performance, studying with members of the Chicago Symphony. Realizing after a few years that there was more she wanted to learn and experience than could be found in a practice room, however, she ended up putting aside music for other pursuits for a number of years.
Music found her again, however, when she joined an intentional community in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, where she lived for 17 years. She became the music teacher for the community’s registered home school, the director of musical theater productions, and the organizer of musical activities for the community as a whole. There she developed the creative and collaborative approach, and eclectic musical sensibility which she now brings to UCM.
Following that experience, Donia has taught choral music in public schools, co-founded and directed a hospice choir, been music director and coach for the annual variety show at Montpelier’s Westview Meadows Senior Residence, and filled in as director for a number of area choral groups.
Donia began attending UCM shortly after moving to East Montpelier in 2013 with her wife, Maryann. Maryann is a long-time Unitarian while Donia came originally to sing in the choir. She has since been impressed by the church’s inclusive approach to spirituality, kind-heartedness, support for children, and commitment to social justice and environmental issues, and is now a member.
In recent years, apart from seeing her in the UCM choir or in the Montpelier Community Gospel Choir’s Small Choir, you might have seen Donia at the North Branch Cafe in Montpelier, which she managed since it opened in 2013.