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Persevering Legacy (2021)

Persevering Legacy (2021)

Mar 23, 2021

Persevering Legacy (2021)

Free or pay what you can

Free or pay what you can

  • Presented by: CU Boulder College of Music

Persevering Legacy champions a unique, catalytic collaboration that elevates stories of historically marginalized, diverse female composers to align classical music with social activism.

The College of Music will partner with the American Music Research Center (AMRC) and Diverse Musicians' Alliance to present this unique performance event. This free performance features College of Music students performing music written and composed by historically marginalized, diverse female composers.

Streamed performance

Even though we are not gathering in person, you can still enjoy this performance from the comfort of your home. Stream this performance Tuesday, March 23, 7:30 p.m. MDT right here at cupresents.org.

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This is a pay-what-you-can performance

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Escalzo: Milonga par mi amigo; Anido: Aire Norteño; Frank: Khazn’s Recitative: Elu D’vorim; Loggins-Hull: Homeland; Price: String Quartet in G major; Price: Dances in the Canebrakes; Garmon: Chaconne in G minor for Solo Violin (1996); Laitman: “The Butterfly” from I Never Saw Another Butterfly; Frank: Suite Mestiza for Solo Violin; Parra: Que he sacado con Quererte; Montgomery: Rhapsody No. 1; Montgomery: Strum for String Quartet

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Program notes

Milonga par mi amigo

Noelia Escalzo

Noelia Escalzo (b. 1979) is an Argentinian composer, conductor, pianist and singer. She has written a concerto for classical guitar, Canción de Cuna para Sabina, and three solo works, including Milonga para un amigo. Milonga para un amigo, dedicated to the Argentinian classical guitarist, Sergio Puccini, was premiered in 2017 by Puccini. The milonga, a popular dance in Argentina in the late 19th century, incorporates elements of the Cuban habanera, Polish polka and traditional Argentinian singing. Fast-paced, energetic and full of syncopation, the early milonga style soon led to the creation of the tango in the 1880s, now Argentina’s most famous style.

Aire Norteño

Maria Luisa Anido

María Luisa Anido (1907-1996) was one of the 20th century’s most influential classical guitarists. Known informally as “the First Lady of the guitar,” Anido studied with Miguel Llobet, a student of Francisco Tárrega, and later became close friends with Andrés Segovia and Leo Brouwer. Aire Norteño, her most popular composition, shows Anido’s Argentinian roots. It is based on the Bailecito, an Argentinian folk dance for festivals, usually accompanied by charangos (lutes), quenas (flutes) and cajas (percussion). In Aire Norteño, Anido imitates these different instruments on guitar using pizzicato in the bass, chords and a tuneful melody.

Khazn’s Recitative: Elu D’vorim

Gabriela Lena Frank

The ways in which Gabriela Lena Frank celebrates and explores her cultural identity are profoundly inspiring to me. As a multicultural American, albeit with a different heritage than hers, her thoughts on her life and experiences resonate deeply with me. She once said, “I firmly believe that only in the United States could a Peruvian-Chinese-Jewish-Lithuanian girl born with significant hearing loss in a hippie town successfully create a life writing string quartets and symphonies.” While she is perhaps better known for her works inspired by her South American heritage, this piece is inspired by her father’s Jewish-Lithuanian heritage. About him and this piece, she writes that “he spoke of being moved by the many renowned Jewish cantors (khazn) that would sing in New York synagogues at the time. To him, they sounded like grown men crying, and crying without embarrassment or inhibition in front of the congregation.” Here is a piece of Gabriela, and with it a piece of me. —Greg Abrell


Allison Loggins-Hull (Flutronix)

Commissioned by The Texas Flute Society for the 2018 Myrna Brown Competition, Homeland explores the concept of home and the disruption of familiarity. Loggins-Hull writes several phrases indicative of the mood of the piece:

“When you are forced to leave your country in order to survive. When the people of your country are completely divided. When your country has been destroyed by a natural disaster. A human disaster. Is home still home?”

Loggins-Hull uses extended techniques to create unease through disruptions in tone, pitch and melodic material. Timbral trills and quarter-tones are used, and rapid, repetitive shifts in tempo and volume contribute to the atmosphere. Nearing the end of the piece, we move to a major tonality. Loggins-Hull utilizes three 3/8 bars as short interjections, which I interpret as the seeds of hope and possibility in new circumstances.

String Quartet in G major

Florence Price

Florence Price was one of the first Black female composers to achieve significant recognition, and the first to have an orchestral work performed by a major American orchestra. Her music is experiencing a renaissance after being largely forgotten following her death. Born in Arkansas in 1887, she learned piano from her mother early on and enrolled in New England Conservatory at only age fourteen. She moved to Chicago in 1927, where she continued her compositional studies and achieved success with a unique style that blended her European classical training, African American spirituals and blues. Many of her works, including this quartet, were lost for decades, rediscovered only in 2009 in a dilapidated house that had been her summer home. String Quartet No. 1 in G Major, written in 1929, received its modern premiere in 2015. The quartet consists of two movements. The second, slower movement is a rapturous, nostalgic reflection on the first. It opens with shimmering, delicate harmonies supporting a folk-like melody, a world seen through rose-tinted glasses, before launching into a devious, spirited middle section that decays darkly to an unresolved unison. The sentimental opening returns, capped with a heartwarming coda that fades wistfully to silence.

Dances in the Canebrakes

Florence Price

Florence Price was born in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1887, where she studied at the New England Conservatory of Music. She graduated in 1906 with a Soloist’s Diploma in organ performance and Teacher’s Diploma in piano performance. During her lifetime, Price composed more than 300 compositions; her works were performed by orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Michigan W.P.A. Symphony and United States Marine Band, and vocalists including Ellabelle David, Todd Duncan and Blanch Theborn. Price was the first African American woman composer to gain national recognition, and her music not only reflects her cultural heritage, but helped define American classical music. Dances in the Canebrakes is a short suite for piano that was composed in 1953, later arranged into an orchestral suite by William Grant Still. Dances in the Canebrakes: I. Nimble Feet is a rag piece with a charismatic and cheeky melody that resembles dancing, nimble feet. This was one of Price’s final works before untimely death in 1953.

Chaconne in G minor for Solo Violin

Shawn Garmon

The Chaconne in G minor for Solo Violin was written by Shawn Garmon, an American composer. Garmon received her doctorate from the University of Oklahoma, three degrees from Wichita State University in instrumental conducting, music theory and composition and a Bachelor of Music in theory and composition. Her compositional output spans a wide range of mediums, including string quartet, woodwinds and percussion. Her works are deeply influenced by her early involvement in jazz, which is apparent in her Chaconne for Solo Violin.

“The Butterfly” from I Never Saw Another Butterfly

Lori Laitman

Lori Laitman’s song cycle I Never Saw Another Butterfly is set to the poetry of Pavel Friedmann, Koleba and Franta Bass, all three of whom were children killed during the Holocaust. They had been imprisoned in Terezin, a Czech ghetto and concentration camp that more than 150,000 Jews were sent to, and only about 17,000 of which survived the war. The children’s poetry was created with the help of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, who secretly taught art classes in the concentration camp. Before Dicker-Brandeis was transported to Auschwitz, she was able to save the children’s artwork and poetry by hiding it in two suitcases that she left in Terezin. After the war, the poems and artwork were compiled into a collection by the same name as this cycle. The piece that I will be performing, “The Butterfly,” opens the set. The poem tells of how the child tries to find beauty in the world despite the ugliness of their reality.

Suite Mestiza for Solo Violin

Gabriela Lena Frank

Inspired by the mixed-race cultures of Andean South America, Suite Mestiza for Solo Violin draws directly on sights and sounds from trips to Perú taken with my mother as traveling companion. As joint personal journeys of remembrance and identity (my mother as a Peruvian born Chinese-Indian-Spanish costeña, or coastal native, who would emigrate to the States upon marrying my father; and me as the American-born Latina), experiences that might be deemed rather ordinary instead have a miraculous cast for us. Some of these are portrayed in the following movements of this violin suite:

I. Haillí (Prayer): Inspired by the lyrical religious songs with Quechua texts, the native non-Spanish language of Peruvians.

III. Charanguista Viejo (Old Charango Player): The quirky and humorous song of an elderly player of the charango, a small high-pitched guitar constructed with the body of an armadillo, is the inspiration for this short movement. —Gabriela Lena Frank

Que he sacado con Quererte

Violeta Parra

arr. Claire Gunsbury and Shelby Roberts

Violeta Parra’s (1917-1967) love song Que he sacado con quererte (“What have I gotten from loving you”) is a beautiful example of the breadth of the folklorista’s oeuvre. Most well known for her influence on the Nueva Cancion movement in Chile and the political content of her songs, Parra focuses on love and loss in the poetic lyrics of this lesser known work. After discovering Natalia Lafourcade’s 2017 version of the piece, the Lark and Sparrow duo (harpist Shelby Roberts and flutist Claire Gunsbury) were inspired to create an arrangement.

Interested in balancing their own voices with those of Parra and Lafourcade, Lark and Sparrow translated the weighted, percussive textures from Parra into palm hits on the soundboard of the harp and vocalizations on the flute. The flute quotes a motif played on the quena (a traditional Andean flute) from one of Parra’s recordings, and sections of improvisation allows Lark and Sparrow to involve Parra and Lafourcade in a musical conversation. Lafourcade’s vocal inflections influenced melodic decisions, and the smooth, nostalgic tone of Lafourcade’s recording is woven throughout the arrangement. Parra and Lafourcade’s music brings a new life to valuable cultural works, and this arrangement seeks to do the same.

Rhapsody No. 1

Jessie Montgomery

Rhapsody No. 1 was written by American violinist-composer Jessie Montgomery. She grew up in Manhattan’s Lower East Side during a time of great change within the community. Her parents “regularly brought Jessie to rallies, performances, and parties where neighbors, activists, and artists gathered to celebrate and support the movements of the time. It is from this unique experience that Jessie has created a life that merges composing, performance, education, and advocacy.”

Rhapsody is the most recent piece in a centuries-old thread that begins with J.S. Bach, moves through Eugène Ysaÿe, and then meets Montgomery. Bach’s six sonatas and partitas for solo violin are considered by many to be some of the most personal pieces that violinists ever perform. After hearing these works performed, Ysaÿe was inspired to write his own set of six sonatas. He dedicated each sonata to one of his contemporaries and made compositional decisions loosely based on each violinist’s personality. In her program notes for the piece, Montgomery states that “Rhapsody draws on inspiration from the Ysaÿe solo violin works … This piece is intended to be part of a set of six solo violin works, each of which will be dedicated to a different contemporary violinist, and inspired by a historical composer.” —Hannah Kennedy

Strum for String Quartet

Jessie Montgomery

Vibrant colors, haunting melodies and eclectic textures define this remarkable piece, composed by an equally remarkable woman. Jessie Montgomery is a violinist, composer and educator, and one of the leading contemporary musicians of our time. Her musicianship is unparalleled as a performer in the Catalyst Quartet and as composer-in-residence for the Sphinx Virtuosi, an organization dedicated to providing opportunity for African American and Latinx musicians. As is showcased in Strum, Montgomery’s compositions are challenging and deeply engaging in their intricacies. They expand the boundaries of classical repertoire while paying homage to the beauty of the tradition. Strum challenges the ensemble to play united through the complex rhythms while embodying pastoral joy in the diverse pizzicato.

Montgomery also unites her passion for social justice into her work as a musician. For her, music is a means for celebrating, uniting, and showcasing people in their diversity. “I imagine that music is a meeting place at which all people can converse about their unique differences and common stories.” —Jessie Montgomery


Mariama Alcantara

Read Bio for Mariama Alcantara

Izzy Fincher

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Hannah Kennedy

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