Celebrating Women Composers

May 17, 2016

The Asmac evening last week entitled, “Celebrating Women Composers” was just that. We moved through the evening listening to music from animation to orchestral music from Carnegie Hall to bebop re­imagined. The evening began with Elise Michelle’s, “Prelude in C,” played beautifully by Bryan Pezzone. Subtle and string tones woven meticulously through Mr. Pezzone’s hands. This piece is the last of the series and was written 17 years later than the other four. Next was Asuka Ito’s music for animation which couldn’t have been more perfect. Asuka writes for live action film as well.

Mar_Elise_CarolynBonnie Janofsky has been associated with big band music (her father was a big band player of note) and finale teacher and arranger. She clearly has a passion for songwriting and musicals in particular. We heard her arrangement of two bayou songs that she had written. (music only). Marlene Hajdu, who hosted the evening, shared her new art song, “In the Sunrise.” She was joined in poetic harmony by Sally Stevens and Leslie Soultanian, both exquisite singers in jazz harmonies.

Penka Kouneva shared her passion for the colors of the orchestra and we saw a scene from, “The Transformers,” that she wrote additional music for (Composer: Steve Jablonsky). She also shared her music from, “The Woman Astronaut,” which was accompanied by another surprise animation entitled, “The Forest.”

Carolyn_Mar-MariaCarolyn Yarnell, a Prix de Rome winner surprised us with an orchestral piece funded by a Fullbright Fellowship and an American Composers Grant. Accompanying this massive piece, ” Living Mountains,” were images of her paintings and photographs that she did while in Iceland for a year writing music and painting which reflected volcanos. ( She used volcanic ash in her accompanying paintings).

Mae Crosby had an opportunity to score an animation piece which was wall-to-­wall music. Scored by a small orchestra, she built the music nicely with the story. Very successful!

P1140845Susan Hurley ( Doctor of music from Indiana State University ) played her song, ” Silver Moon,” from a main title credit which established the retro mood of the movie. She then introduced an opera that she is working on about the Sibyl of Apollo. We were treated to a dramatic sketch of the overture accompanied by a photo that she took in the cave in Italy where her story took place. When the break took place, there was a rousing sound of many composers meeting up for the first time in years. Very special. Marlene Hajdu brought us back from the break with two more live music events with composers, Maria Newman and Nan Schwartz.

As Maria Newman and Scott Hosfeld prepared for her piece, “Appalachian Duets,” we were excited to hear the piece. Their virtuosity was apparent as the two of them delighted the audience as their bows continued to speed up. This piece was originally commissioned and taken from Maria’s original score for the 1919 Mary Pickford film, “Heart of the Hills.”

BowNan Schwartz’s stunning arrangement of “Con Alma,” by Dizzy Gillespie was played by Michael Stever on trumpet and accompanied by the masterful string quartet: Ben Powell, Maria Newman, Scott Hosfeld and Paula Hochhalter. “Con Alma,” was composed by jazz great Dizzie Gillespie, and is usually done as a fast bebop tune. ‘This is an arrangement I wrote for Arturo Sandoval’s CD “Dear Diz.” Arturo will be performing it with a string quartet on my concert at Vibrato Jazz Grill,’ said Nan. (June 15th)

The evening ended with an impromptu interview of the 10 composers by Marlene Hajdu.

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