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Lecture Recital Programs

Jazz Women Composers

This presentation focuses on women jazz composers ranging in styles from ragtime (Adeline Shepherd), early swing (Lil Hardin Armstrong, wife of Louis Armstrong), big band ( legendary pianist, composer, and arranger Mary Lou Williams)and present day (Marian McPartland).

All of these composers have performed in the Midwest and many have strong local connections to Chicago.

The discussion will include a performance of music from each composer and will highlight each woman's contribution to the field of jazz.

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The Sacred Side of Jazz

This program explores the connections between the faith and work lives of composers Duke Ellington, Mary Lou Williams, Dave Brubeck and British composer Bob Chilcott. Musically I explore Duke Ellington's three Sacred Concerts, Mary Lou Williams' papal commission of her last Mass, Dave Brubeck's cantata "The Gates of Justice" (a work based on the suffering of Jews and Blacks), his Mass "To Hope! A Celebration" and Bob Chilcott's tasty "A Little Jazz Mass".

This lecture provides extensive historical background and demonstrates the important role these works play in the composers' overall bodies of work.

American Women Composers

This program celebrates the music of three female American composers: Amy Beach (1867-1944), and two African-American composers from Chicago, Florence Price (1887-1953) and her protege Margaret Bonds (1913-1972).

Amy Beach, a frequently overlooked and largely self-taught Romantic composer, was the first American woman to have her work performed by a major American symphony. Florence Price was the first African American woman symphonist and her "Symphony in E Minor" was performed by the CSO in 1933 at the Chicago World's Fair. Finally, Margaret Bonds who was the first African-American woman to play with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra when she premiered John Carpenter's "Concertino for Piano and Orchestra". Both Price and Bonds enjoyed successful careers as composers, teachers, and performers and drew heavily from rich African-American musical tradition. All three women were prodigious composers of over 200 works and composed in nearly every genre.

Particular attention will be devoted to providing the background necessary to understand the social climate, attitudes toward women in music, and the obstacles that each composer had to overcome. Performance of piano compositions by all three composers will be included in the program.


copyright 2011 Mary Clare Barker