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Artina McCain Brings the Legacy of Black Female Composers to Harris Concert Hall

This Sunday, the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music will host a concert highlighting the works of various black female composers.

Artina McCain, Coordinator of Piano Studies with the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music, will perform a series of works from up to 10 notable black composers like Errolyn Wallen, Jacqueline Hariston and Lena McLin. In addition to McCain, this concert will feature several guest artists including James Rodriguez, baritone, and Gwen Alfred, soprano.

“This is a collaborative concert that I’ll be putting on with my two colleagues,” said McCain. “It’s definitely what I would consider a group recital.”

The composers featured in this concert include the likes of Florence Price and Margaret Bonds, both of which rose to prominence during the Harlem Renaissance period alongside Langston Hughes.

“His poetry is actually part of two of the featured works: Price’s ‘White Rose’ and Bond’s ‘Negro Speaks of Rivers,'” said McCain. “But we have also chosen to include more recent works from living composers like Jacqueline Hairston.”

According to McCain, Margaret Bond’s “Troubled Waters” piece, which is based off the hymn “Wade in the Water,” might be most recognizable to local audiences.

Described as a pianist with “power and finesse” by the Dallas Arts Society, Artina McCain enjoys an active career as a solo and chamber performer, educator and lecturer. She has performed nationally and internationally throughout Europe, China, and the United States.

“I will be playing two pieces by living composers Tania Leon and Errollyn Wallen, both of which are heavily influenced by rhythm,” said McCain. “Leon is Afro-Cuban, so you’ll really hear some of those Cuban rhythms, while Wallen brings in a lot of difference influences that range from Johann Sebastian Bach to modern-day hip-hop.”

This event, which will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 15, is free and open to the public.

“Many works of black composers, as well as female composers, has been historically overlooked,” said McCain. “So, there’s an opportunity here. Most people have never heard this sort of music before, so this should provide a rare chance for them to hear this particular sound.”

In addition to Sunday evening’s event at The University of Memphis, a Friday evening concert featuring Artina McCain, Gwendolyn Alfred, James Rodriguez and Alisa Horn will be held at Crosstown Theater.

“I’m very excited to bring this music to Memphis,” said McCain. “Many people who hear this sort of music are often surprised at just how familiar and influential it is in a way that’s not just specific to black people, but all ethnic cultures.”

The program for Sunday evening’s concert is as follows: 
Tumbao, Tania Leon
I wouldn’t Normally Say, Errollyn Wallen
Troubled Water, Margaret Bonds
A White Rose, Florence Price
Song to the Dark Virgin, Florence Price
Theology, Betty Jackson King
In the Spring Time, Betty Jackson King
The Negro Speaks of Rivers, Margaret Bonds
On Consciousness Streams, Jacqueline Hairston
          Thou Alone Canst Inspire                                           
          On Consciousness Streams
          The Season of Remembrance
Weary Blues, Dorothy Rudd Moore
Four Encore Songs, Florence Price
          A flea and a fly
          Tom’s Father
          Open Road
I’m a Soldier, Let Me Ride, Arranged by Lena McLin
Love Let the Wind Cry…How I Adore Thee, Undine Smith Moore
Published inLive PerformancesRudi E. Scheidt School of Music

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