Musicians honor female composers

AACC faculty to celebrate the sound of progress

October 10, 2002|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

"There's no music when a woman's in the concert," harrumphed author Thomas Dekker back in 1604.

Thankfully, music has come a long way, baby, on the issue of gender inclusion during the past 400 years.

These days, concert halls the world over abound with female artists who sometimes go out of their way to perform works composed by other women.

That will be the case at 8 p.m. tomorrow when pianist Diane Kinsley Stelz, violinist Kimberly McCollum, flutist Melinda Wade English, and soprano Mary Anne Barcellona take the Pascal Center stage on the campus of Anne Arundel Community College.

The artists, who are all members of the AACC music faculty, will perform, as their program says, "music about women, by women, and for everybody!" Their concert is free and open to the public.

Each of these musicians has brought a wealth of talent and experience to the Arnold campus.

Pianist and harpsichordist Stelz is a graduate of the University of Louisville and Baltimore's Peabody Institute who has played for Opera Vivente, Baltimore's Young Victorian Theater and Prince George's Choral Society in her career as an accompanist.

Barcellona has sung a variety of leading roles with the Canadian Opera Company in addition to spending many nights on stage as Carlotta, the tempestuous prima donna who incurs the Phantom's wrath, in the Toronto production of Andrew Lloyd-Webber's Phantom of the Opera.

McCollum, who studied violin at Boston University and Florida State, has played in the symphonies of Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Columbus and Annapolis, while English, a former member of the U.S. Army Field Band, serves as principal flute in Maryland's Salisbury Symphony while teaching at Salisbury University.

"They're all excellent musicians," says Doug Byerly, chairman of AACC's Department of Music. "It's great to have such talented performers teaching at the college and adding so much to the resources of the county."

All sorts of interesting and unfamiliar repertoire will be on display at tomorrow night's concert.

Stelz will take to the harpsichord to play a Sonata by Marianna Martines (1744-1812), a Viennese musician of Spanish descent who composed several full-length sonatas and concertos for the keyboard, as well as many works for the voice.

The keyboardist will be joined by violinist McCollum for a Sicilienne by Theresia von Paradis (1759-1824), a composer who happened to be the daughter of the Imperial Secretary to Austrian Empress Maria Theresia, for whom she was named.

Stelz will move to the piano for a set of variations written by Clara Schumann, the wife of composer Robert Schumann who, in the course of championing her husband's works, became known as one of the great pianists of the 19th century.

Also on the program is a movement from the A minor violin sonata of Amy Beach, the first-rate concert pianist who turned to composition rather than offend her Boston Brahmin husband, who nixed the adventuresome idea of his wife traveling the world as an itinerant virtuoso of the keyboard.

Among her many compositions is a very good symphony in E minor known as the "Gaelic," and a formidable piano concerto that deserves to be better-known.

This violin sonata isn't exactly slouchy, either.

Barcellona takes the stage for a pair of arias from Jean Coulthard's The Return of the Native, an operatic setting of Thomas Hardy's great novel of the same name. Coulthard, who died in 2000, was a distinguished Canadian composer.

Other selections will include the heart-rending "Senza Mamma" from Puccini's tear-jerking opera, Suor Angelica, sung by Barcellona, and Francois Borne's Carmen Fantaisie played by flutist English and pianist Stelz.

After all, no program of music about women could be complete without lustrous high notes from a suicidal nun, and a sampling of the great tunes sung by the sultriest femme fatale of them all.

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