GUILFORD -- Friends of Music at Guilford presents its third annual Celebration of Women Composers, a fundraiser for this 46th season, on Sunday, April 29, at 7 p.m. at a Brattleboro residence. Works by Beach, Grant, Daniels and Branscombe are on the menu, along with hors d’oeuvres served from 6 p.m., and desserts and coffee following the performance.
Three of the four composers represented on the program were contemporaries and friends whose careers were closely linked.
* Amy Cheney Beach (1867-1944) was the first American woman composer to achieve success and remains the most famous and influential. She made her name as a piano virtuoso, giving recitals and performing with the Boston Symphony, but after her marriage, her husband insisted she limit her performing career to one annual public charity recital. She devoted herself to composition instead. She was the only female composer associated with the "Second New England School" of Boston-based composers, which included Paine, Foote, Chadwick, MacDowell and Horatio Parker. She wrote in the Romantic tradition, though some of her later music has a more modern, harmonically adventurous quality. She became the first president of the Society of American Woman Composers. For this program, pianist William McKim will play Two Compositions for Solo Piano, Opus 54: "Scottish Legend" and "Gavotte Fantastique."
* Mabel Wheeler Daniels (1878-1971) was born in
* Gena Branscombe (1881-1977) was born in Picton, Ontario, and studied piano and composition and taught piano in Chicago and Washington state until 1909, when she went to Europe and took composition with Engelbert Humperdinck. In 1928, following in Beach’s footsteps, she became president of the Society of American Woman Composers. The Gena Branscombe Project is a one-woman show by soprano Kathleen Shimeta, in which songs by Branscombe are bracketed with first-person dialogue. On April 29, Shimeta will perform selections from the show, accompanied by pianist Julia Bady of Greenfield, Mass.
* Elise Grant (b. 1943), lives in Connecticut. She studied at Sarah Lawrence College, Mannes College of Music, and with Nadia Boulanger at her institute in Fontainebleau, France. She is a member of Friends of Music at Guilford, which has presented several of her pieces. This year, McKim plays her "Étude: Anger and Nostalgia" for solo piano.
Seating for this event is limited. Recommended donation, which includes hors d’oeuvres, beverages and desserts, is $35 per person. For more information and an official invitation packet, call the Friends of Music office at 802-254-3600.