Who We Are

Deborah Gordon (Director)

DSC_0007_edited-1A lifelong musician, Deborah is the choral director of Zemya. Prior to this, Deborah taught and performed in various forms and geographical locations including Vancouver Canada, Sweden, Colorado, and Maine. Throughout her musical career, Deborah has sung with a nine-piece traditional jazz band, directed musical theatre, coached voice, and founded two other a cappella ensembles, The Whalers of Chebeague Island, and Octavia of Cumberland, Maine. Along with her ongoing musical endeavors, Deborah continues to be involved in other art mediums as well. She creates fiber art wear at her Green Point Design Studios, and also photographs clotheslines in Ship Cove, Newfoundland, where she lives and works when not doing the same at her home in Portland. Directing Zemya is unique in that its repertoire is inspired by selections from around the globe and sung in a multitude of languages. Deborah believes that music, and most especially song, acts as a conduit in helping to keep us multiculturally sensitive and aware of the larger world community in which we live.

Barbara Beckelman

barbaraBarbara is grateful to her parents for insisting on piano lessons, and for having a great collection of records that included Broadway musicals, big bands and cool jazz, Harry Belafonte, Ella Fitzgerald and Bach. The piano lessons hardwired her to enjoy learning music theory later in life; the record album covers and liner notes filled her early years with an invaluable education about performing artists and musical genres. (She’s glad she grew up with vinyl.) When Barbara moved to Portland 22 years ago, she sang with Women In Harmony and Full Circle in the first years of these women’s groups. Then she got together with friends and formed the mixed a cappella quintet, Referendum (the name was inspired by the movement to support legal protections for gays and lesbians in Maine), and they had a great run for 10 years. When Barbara had the opportunity to join Zemya in 2010, she discovered a repertoire she hadn’t known she would love so much. “My idea of fun is to be smack dab in the middle of lush, vibrant harmonies, and to sing songs that move people. Singing with Zemya gives me all this and more!” Barbara is co-owner of a training & consulting firm, and lives in Portland with her amazing partner of 30 years.

Ida Dyment

Ida's photoGrowing up with multi-hued music from The Beach Boys and Soweto Street Music, to Joni Mitchell and Bach, Ida went from singing to her chickens in the woods of New Hampshire, to singing in a local RSCM-affiliated church choir. Several golden summers were spent singing world music with the teen musical touring group Village Harmony, and another summer touring Bulgarian folk festivals with the London Bulgarian Choir. Ida teaches in Freeport, and spends her few remaining free moments cooking, sewing, and being outside.




Ann Swardlick

annAfter 30 years in Yarmouth, Ann recently moved with her husband to the Big City (Portland), where she’s closer to work and to her daughter Abby. Her life has been filled with travel and music making. She lived for a year in South Africa, another one in Vienna, and has traveled often to Transylvania, all with an ear tuned to the local folk traditions. A writer by trade, Ann works as a freelance copywriter with a focus on content development for universities and other clients. “As much as I love to write, I couldn’t live without singing. Being part of Zemya is a true joy.”