The MIT Muses, the only all-female a cappella group on campus has belted beautiful melodies in and around the Institute—be it in the Infinite Corridor, at MIT events, riding in an elevator, and even in McCormick Hall—since 1988.
Susan Quick, founder of MIT Muses, had an idea during her first year on campus to create an a cappella group just for women. The only other groups on campus at the time were the all-male Logarhythms and the co-ed Chorallaries. While Quick majored in chemistry, music continued to be a huge part of her everyday life. “It’s such a wonderful gateway from our studies. Such a wonderful distraction,” says Quick. In true a cappella fashion the name “MIT Muses” is somewhat punny, referring to both the Greek goddesses of the arts and the Greek letter μ (pronounced “mu”) which symbolizes a number of mathematical variables.
Today’s Muses practice six hours a week in the McCormick music room with a number of additional performances each semester. Emuna Mokel ’21, president of MIT Muses, sees the group as social, caring, and supportive. “If I’m ever struggling or if I’m having a bad day, it’s another group of people I can turn to that are making sure I’m doing alright. It’s gotten me through rougher days,” says Mokel.
The MIT Muses’ 2018 reunion brought together current members and alumnae from the past 30 years and was a time for them to reconnect. The reaction from founder Quick was emotional. “It brought tears to my eyes,” she says. “They did such an amazing job, they put so much time and effort into arranging this. I was so touched.”
This year, MIT Muses is comprised of 19 female singers, making it one of the biggest groups in Muses’ history. Courtney Guo ’18 has spent five years with the MIT Muses. Guo has taken on many roles within the group including musical director, and she believes that there is magic in music and performing. “There’s something special about making music more than the notes on the page and feeling it more emotionally,” says Guo.
“I started something in a selfish way because I wanted to sing a cappella,” says Quick. “But in the end, it became a giant sisterhood of women who are friends who stay friends and support each other and still love music together.” Even after 30 years, Quick continues to sing with a band and a church choir.
Aspiring Muses can audition for the group each fall, typically in September. And each new class of members will lend their voices to shaping The Muses’ next thirty years of music and memories.
Written by Kailey-Tse Harlow, Video by Stephanie Tran, Photo courtesy Courtney Guo/MIT Muses
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