Sunday, March 22, 2009

Women in Music Festival

An interactive concert, two silent film shorts, readings by local poets of their works, premieres of new compositions, and performances in the community are just some of the events highlighting the fifth annual Women in Music Festival at the Eastman School of Music. Running from Monday, March 23 through Friday, March 27, 2009, the festival celebrates the many achievements and contributions of women in all aspects of music, including composition, performance, teaching, and scholarship.

The public is invited to attend these free performances and experience the amazing works by women that are becoming standards in the repertoire or are heard for the very first time. Judith Lang Zaimont will be this year's composer-in residence. Her music, which includes some 100 symphonic, chamber opera, voice, and solo instrumental compositions, is internationally acclaimed for its expressive strength and dynamism. Zaimont also has authored numerous articles and is the editor of the three-volume series The Musical Woman: An International Perspective. Her composition "Housewife," commissioned by Eastman's Hanson Institute for American Music and based on a text by local poet Claudia M. Stanek, will receive its premiere by the Eastman Women's Chorus during a concert of her work at noon on Wednesday, March 25, in the Eastman School's Main Hall. In addition, Zaimont's "Sacred Service for the Sabbath Evening" will be performed by singers from Eastman School and Temple B'rith Kodesh at 7 p.m. Friday, March 27, at the Temple.

The festival features five noontime concerts of works written by women in a broad range of musical styles, with each piece being introduced by a local woman poet reading from her work. Scheduled to appear are poets Donna Marbach, Karla Lynn Merrifield, Wanda Schubmehl, Kathleen Van Schaick, and Andrea Weinstein. The noontime concert on Thursday, March 26, in Eastman's Schmitt Organ Recital Hall will include two silent shorts by German filmmaker Lotte Reiniger, which will be screened to music written for a duet consisting of saxophone and vibraphone. The concert will end in Christ Church (Episcopal) where the work "Pent," written by Eastman composition student Elizabeth Kelly for the Craighead-Saunders organ, will receive its premiere.

Also on Thursday, March 26, pianist Kevin Nitsch and mixed media artist Kathleen Nicastro will present a concert at 3:30 p.m. in the Miller Center Atrium as part of their interactive "Labyrinth of Sound and Light" series. Titled "Water's Edge: 200 Years of Women Composers," the event also features soprano Amy Cochrane and pianist Beverley Smoker. Individuals will be able to wander into the Atrium to listen, watch, and move around the artists to enhance the participatory experience; writing and drawing materials will be available so that audience members can express their own thoughts or impressions.

Besides the performance of Zaimont's "Sacred Service for the Sabbath Evening," events on the evening of Friday, March 27, include a recital by Eastman alumna and flutist Jennifer Oh-Brown and the Chicago New Arts Trio at 7 p.m. at the University of Rochester's Interfaith Chapel.

A complete schedule of events, which are free and open to the public, can be found online at In addition, the weekly mini-recitals on the Italian Baroque organ at the Memorial Art Gallery at 1 and 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 22, and Sunday March 29, will be devoted to women composers.

The Eastman School's Women in Music Festival was launched in 2005. Sylvie Beaudette, assistant professor of chamber music and accompanying is the founding director of the festival.The 2009 festival is sponsored by The Hanson Institute for American Music at the Eastman School; the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender & Women's Studies and the Department of Music in the College of the University of Rochester; the departments of Chamber Music, Composition, Humanities, Piano, Voice, Winds, Brass & Percussion and the Eastman All-Events Committee of the Eastman School of Music; and the Office of the Dean of the Eastman School of Music.

Zaimont's residency was funded in part through Meet the Composer's MetLife Creative Connections program.

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