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Singing the Praises of Women Composers

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The accompanying videos were taken during the November 3 concert in Fletcher, where three pieces were performed.




First up is Andrea Clearfield’s composition Songs of the Wolf. Kristen Richard, a senior in horn performance in the studio of Mary Burroughs, and Alisa Gilliam, a piano faculty member at ECU perform the first movement of this piece—Wolf Songs.

Clearfield, a current American composer, teaches at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She writes compositions for a variety of musical avenues including orchestra, chorus, soloists, and chamber ensembles. Additionally, Clearfield recently won the American Academy in Rome Fellowship from the American Composers Forum. Froydis Ree Wekre, a Norwegian horn player, commissioned this composition, written in 1994. Songs of the Wolf is characterized by special effect such as falling off notes, stooping, muffling, and cooping, which emulate noises wolves would make in the wild.



Maurio Hines, a graduate voice major, and Catherine Garner, pianist, performed Margaret Bonds’ song cycle Dream Portraits. This cycle encompasses three works—Minstrel Man, Dream Variation, and I, Too. Minstrel Man and I, Too are works both dedicated to Lawrence Winters, an African American opera singer. The songs focus on overcoming racial adversity. Dream Variation is dedicated to Adele Addison, an African American lyric soprano, and this song equates the color black with beauty.

Bonds, a Chicago-born pianist, composer, and teacher, was the first African American soloist to appear with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1933. Bonds, who died in 1972 and wrote mostly vocal compositions, studied piano at Julliard and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from Northwestern University.



The final two pieces, Trouble Done Come My Way and My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord, were composed by Florence Price. Price, who wrote mainly spirituals, was the first African American woman to be recognized as a symphonic composer in the 1930s. She attended the American Conservatory and the Chicago Musical College to study music. Although she wrote more than 300 compositions, many remain unpublished today. Candace Little, a senior in music therapy and mezzo-soprano, and Catherine Garner on piano, performed this song.

WIM concerts feature music composed solely by women, and past performances have taken place in September, October, and November of this year. Additional concerts are planned for February, March, and April, and each concert is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. on the first Wednesday of the month

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