Treasured Tunes featuring Catherine Garner

Podcast Transcript


Welcome to Treasured Tunes where professors from the East Carolina University School of Music offer commentary about selected musical pieces. Please sit back and enjoy the music.

Catherine Garner Speaking

My name is Catherine Garner and I am the director and pianist of the Women’s Initiative Music Series here at East Carolina University. I’ve started this festival, called Music on a WIM, which consists of Wednesday concerts at 11:30 a.m. on the first Wednesday of each month. These concerts are in the lobby of the A.J. Fletcher Music Center, which is not a formal concert venue. So, in this recording, you might hear some crowd noises and or people walking back and forth. That is a norm in this kind of situation.

The November 3 concert is what you will be hearing today. It consisted of three pieces. The first piece called Songs of the Wolf, the first movement entitled Wolf Songs by a composer called Andrea Clearfield. Andrea Clearfield is a current American composer of works for orchestra, chorus, soloists, chamber ensembles, dance, and multi-media collaborations. She has been commissioned by many organizations such as the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Debussy Trio, the American Guild of Organists, and many other international groups. She currently serves on the composition faculty at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. If you would like to know more about her, she does have a web site of her own, as well. The performers of this piece are Kristen Richard and Alisa Gilliam. Kristen is a senior horn performance from the studio of Mary Burroughs. Her pianist, Alicia Gilliam, is a pianist on our faculty. The movement they will be performing is called Wolf Songs. The entire piece was commissioned by Froydis Ree Wekre, a Norwegian horn player, who currently teaches at the Norwegian State Academy of Music. This work, written in 1994, contains special effects such as glissandi, falling off notes at the end, stopping, muffling, and scooping. These all evoke animal noises and also portray the many moods that are associated with the wolf such as nobility, playfulness, savagery of the hunt, and baying at the moon.

Music playing composed by Andrea Clearfield (Wolf Songs, performed by Kristen Richard on horn and Alisa Gilliam on piano)

The next set of songs will be sung by Maurio Hines, a tenor who is a graduate student here at ECU. He will be performing three songs from Margaret Bonds from her song cycle called Three Dream Portraits. Margaret Bonds was born in 1913 in Chicago and died in 1972 in Los Angeles. She was a pianist, composer, and a teacher. Her mother, an organist, was her first piano teacher. Her childhood home was a meeting place for African American writers, artists, and musicians, including Florence Price. Margaret Bonds was the firs African American soloist to appear with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1933 and she played Florence Price’s piano concerto at the World’s Fair. She wrote mostly vocal music and is best known for her spiritual arrangements. Her works for orchestra and piano reflect her strong sense of ethnic identity. This cycle called Three Dream Portraits uses text by Langston Hughes. The song cycle was published in 1959. Minstrel Man was dedicated to a man named Lawrence Winters, who was an African American bass baritone from the 1940s through the 1960s who helped break down the racial barriers of the opera world. This song displays the irony between the black entertainer’s happy façade and his inner turmoil.

The second movement, Dream Variation, was dedicated to Adele Addison, who was an African American lyric soprano during the 1950s and 1960s. She performed mostly in recitals and concerts and a little in opera. She is actually best known for her role as Bess in the 1959 movie Porgy and Bess. This song explores a better world in a dream-like atmospheric setting. The third song, I Too, is also dedicated to Lawrence Winters. This song is a militaristic march where there is ultimate triumph in the face of adversity. The pianist for this is myself.

Music playing composed by Magaret Bonds (Dream Portraits, Minstrel Man, and, I, Too performed by Maurio Hines singing and Catherine Garner on Piano)

Our last two pieces are two spiritual arrangements by Florence Price. Florence Price was born in 1887 in Little Rock, Arkansas. She was the first African American woman to be recognized as a symphonic composer in the 1930s. Her symphony was premiered by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1933. She died in Chicago in 1953. She is best known for her songs, which include art songs and arrangements of spirituals. She has composed over 300 works, but most remain unpublished. She is known for her ability to incorporate spirituals and characteristic dance music within classical forms. The mezzo soprano singing today is Candace Little. She is a senior music therapy major also here at ECU. The first piece we will perform is Trouble Done Come My Way. The second is My Soul has been anchored in the Lord. I am the pianist for this piece, as well.

Music playing composed by Florence Price (Trouble Done Come My Way and My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord, performed by Candace Little singing and Catherine Garner on Piano)

This has been a production of East Carolina University. To hear more, please visit the Treasured Tunes index.