Piano recital illuminates women composers

Posted on January 20, 2011 by Staff Writer

Guest pianist Emily Yap Chua will perform a recital of works by women composers at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 26 in Memorial Chapel at Sweet Briar College.

Chua is an associate professor of music at Randolph College, where she was recently named the first recipient of the Katherine Graves Davidson Faculty Scholarship Award. She has focused much of her research on contemporary women composers — an interest sparked by her doctoral thesis on Ruth Crawford Seeger’s piano preludes. The recital is part of a sabbatical project, including a tour this spring to perform the program in venues from North Carolina to Nebraska.

The intrinsic message behind the selected works is one she teaches students in her Women in Music course at Randolph: Classical music need not be old or written by men. With the exception of Seeger and her “Kaleidoscopic Changes on an Original Theme, Ending with a Fugue,” Chua notes the composers are all living and the music written within the past 10 to 25 years.

“One of the articles that I have students read at the beginning of my Women in Music course is titled ‘Dead White Men in Wigs’ — the idea being that people perceive classical music as being populated by those figures, ” Chua said. “Programming a recital of music by contemporary women will hopefully broaden listeners’ awareness of classical or art music — and bring to light that it is written by women and by women of color.”

In addition to compositions by Americans Jennifer Higdon and Emma Lou Diemer, Chua will perform works by Chinese composer Chen Yi, Belizean Errollyn Wallen and Tania Leon, who is Afro-Cuban.

Chua regularly performs as a soloist and collaborator with musicians from orchestras across the United States and in Europe. After receiving a bachelor’s in music from Florida State University, she earned a Master of Music in piano performance and a Doctor of Musical Arts in piano performance with a cognate in music theory at the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati.

Admission to the recital is free. For more information, e-mail nross@sbc.edu or call (434) 381-6121.