ember is an eclectic community choir based on the traditional Ho-Chunk lands of "Driftless" so called Wisconsin, directed by folk musician and artist Anni Zijlstra. We gather our songs from the embers of old time polyphonic singing traditions of the world, with primary studies in Bulgarian regional singing, Georgian songs, Scandinavian folk tunes, seasonal English rounds, and more. Whether you're looking for an accessible opportunity to learn ancestral music and connect with the places of your lineage's past OR simply pass one evening per week in healthy, focused learning with a fun and hilarious group of fellow learners, this class is for you! 
We are a queer-friendly crew open to folks of all genders, ages, and backgrounds. This group is anti-racist, trans-affirming and does not use gendered singing methodology. We practice cultural appreciation and exploration, and seek to combat the default of cultural ambiguity many of us learned in white supremacist society by naming the lineages and origins of our music and the wider contexts from which they emerge.

We learn primarily through oral tradition style call-and-response - the original ancient format for music making  - which helps make this music accessible to all. Having fun, learning incredible music, honing our songs, honoring rich folkloric traditions, and building community through in-person practices, meet-ups, and gatherings are our primary focuses, but we will schedule a few performances throughout the year.

Pirin babas sing in the street at Breznica in footage from Annie's travels in Bulgaria.

Dry Leaf
Dry Leaf
Fall Season
13 Weeks
Thursday Evenings  7 - 9:00 CT

Sept 16 - Dec 16
The Fall Season starts Thursday Sept 16 and ends Dec 16. There will be no class on the Thanksgiving holiday, and there are 3 possible miss-dates built in. We will meet from 7:00 - 9:00 PM CT.

* Due to the covid-19 pandemic, we are offering in-person participation for fully vaccinated members and live & self-paced online learning through Zoom for everyone everywhere! In-person participants will meet in Annie's home in Viroqua, and online registrants will be sent a Zoom link and other learning resources upon registration.

The class is set up to be 13 weeks, or 26 hours of class time. But due to the nature of the pandemic, we all need to be flexible and prepared for potential class cancellations since the core part of this group is in-person. The possibility of up to 3 class cancellations is structured into the schedule and base pricing for participants. 

what to expect

In-person participants:

In-person choir members should be prepared to learn with full focus and bodily engagement as we will be steeped in in-depth learning of complex material over time.

All prospective members should either identify as strong singers or be committed to enough home practice that holding a part on one's own without the help of other section members is achievable by the time we are planning any potential performances.

Covid-19 Protocols and Policies

• In-person members must be fully vaccinated for Covid-19.
• Excellent communication around health status and exposures to sick people is expected.
• If you have cold/flu symptoms or a known Covid-19 exposure please stay home. You are encouraged to join us via Zoom if you are well enough - just reach out for the links.
• We will sing with windows open and an air filter running for as long as we can into the fall.

Online Participants:

Class FAQ

This class is available for both live and self-paced learning.
Registration is Sliding Scale-based and includes: 

 • Links for live Zoom classes with our in-person group on Thursday nights

• Links to recorded Zoom classes for make up, review, and self-paced learning

• Access to an Online Class Portal containing practice tracks for each song, song lyrics and translations, cultural information about each song, and other resources

• Access to an active online community with fellow learners
• An invitation to yearly in-person gatherings / retreats where we can hang out, rest in the beauty of the land of SW "Wisconsin", and bask in the magic of singing the songs we've learned together in-person, under the sun and stars.

 This class is suitable for singers of all experience levels. Online participants will be muted for the duration of live classes, but will be able to hear and sing along with the full live group harmony. There is something for everyone in our repertoire, from seasonal English rounds to strident Bulgarian yodeling dissonance. And because of our oral tradition learning style, our music is abundantly accessible to beginners as well as more advanced singers.

This hybrid model of learning is experimental, and online participants are extended members of the live class experience. The class is not a polished, finished product, but rather a fluid and happening experience you are a part of. You will experience all of our live, real-time chaos, laughter, questions, and sense of community building, and in that, learning in a highly authentic, imperfect way. If you're joining us online, we ask that you offer us your patience as we navigate the imperfect technologies available to us as we share this offering.


Term dues are an acknowledgement of the time, energy, expense, and work it takes to organize and facilitate a group of this kind. Wildly, similar online classes to this value in the $300 - $900 range depending on where you source them. We, however, operate on a sliding scale basis in order to be as inclusive as possible. You can review our Sliding Scale Guidelines here.  Please reach out if you'd like to arrange a payment plan! 

• The prices listed below are for Venmo payments, which can be sent to
@anniezylstra with only an emoji at checkout (if you use words or mention anything about a class, Venmo will take a cut). If you are sending via venmo, check the according box in the registration form, add your venmo handle in the comment box and hit Submit. 
• You can also send your payment through Paypal Friends and Family to
•If you pay via the form, the web fees for transaction are included. Please select US or International Registration

Venmo Sliding Scale Options:

Full Session Supported: $90
Full Session Basic: $145
Full Session Supporting: $190 

Sliding Scale Guidelines
Water Foam