Duo releases compact disc of works by women composers

Duo releases compact disc of works by women composers Pianist Susan Keith Gray of The University of South Dakota music faculty, along with violinist Laura Kobayashi of West Virginia University, recently completed a compact disc of works by women composers.

Titled Boldly Expressive! Music by Women, the disc was released by Albany Records on Sept. 1 and will soon be available through Borders, Tower Records and Amazon.com. The disc is a culmination of 10 years of joint research and performances by the duo on the music for violin and piano by women composers. Four of the works on the disc are premiere recordings.

On Saturday, Sept. 30, the duo will hold a release and signing party from 3 to 5 p.m. in the lobby of the Warren M. Lee Center for the Fine Arts. The public is cordially invited to attend. CDs will be available for purchase and the duo will perform briefly at 3:15 and 4:15 p.m. The duo will be joined by Cathy Beard and Carol Geu of Vermillion who provided the art work and graphics, respectively, for the disc.

The works on the disc are stylistically distinct and combine to show tremendous depth over the one and a half centuries represented. Rebecca Clarke is the most well-known composer of the set; Midsummer Moon displays her impressionistic style.

The Grand Sonate, Op. 8 by Marie Grandval was discovered by Kobayashi in a collection of women's music at the University of Michigan libraries. Following her discovery of this out-of-print 19th century work, the duo created a modern edition for Hildegard Publishing Company (1998), where it can now be purchased.

Two short works by Johanna Senfter are in a late romantic style. In 1994, the duo commissioned fellow doctoral student Serra Miyeun Hwang to write Allegory. Lalai by Barbara Heller is a dramatically moving composition written in sympathy for Iranian women prisoners during the reign of the Shah. The fifth sonata of Grazyna Bacewicz is representative of a significant volume of music by this neglected 20th century Polish violinist, Pianist and composer.

The duo was founded in 1990 at the University of Michigan where both musicians completed doctoral degrees. In 1993, they toured South America and the West Indies as winners of the USIA Artistic Ambassador auditions.

They continue to tour throughout the United States, performing standard repertoire as well as works by women composers The artists are enthusiastically praised for their blending of brilliant technique, beautifully expressive musicianship, impeccable ensemble and stimulating programming.

Partial funding for the disc was provided by a South Dakota Arts Council Artist Project Grant. SDAC support is provided with funds from the state Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts. The disc was recorded at West Virginia University in December 1998 by Peter Nothnagle of Iowa City, IA.

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