DSE Presents “Women Pioneers of American Music” on January 24, 2016

December 11th, 2015

Dolce Suono Ensemble Presents “Women Pioneers of American Music” with music by Amy Beach, Marion Bauer, Ruth Crawford Seeger, Andrea Clearfield, and world premiere by Jennifer Higdon

Dolce Suono Ensemble’s 2015-2016 season continues with an innovative program bringing together music by ground-breaking American women composers Beach, Bauer, and Crawford Seeger, and distinguished composers of today, the Pulitizer Prize-winning Higdon and Clearfield, both Philadelphia-based. In keeping with our season-long feature of co-curation, Jennifer Higdon and Charles Abramovic, DSE pianist, are co-curators with Mimi Stillman of “Women Pioneers of American Music.”

Amy Beach (1867-1944), who published as Mrs. H.H.A. Beach, was a noted pianist and composer and one of the first American women composers of concert music. She was part of the Boston Six or Second New England School of composers, which included Arthur Foote, Edward MacDowell, George Chadwicke, Horatio Parker, which was significant for developing a tradition of American composition independent from Europe. Marion Bauer (1882-1955) was a distinguished composer and educator, who taught composition at New York University and Juilliard School. Beach and Bauer were among the founders of the Society of American Women Composers. Ruth Crawford Seeger (1901-1953) was part of the group of composers known as the “ultramoderns” in her contemporary concert music style and notably collected American folk songs in volumes for adults and children. The three pioneering composers were connected in interesting ways; all three were associated with the MacDowell Colony, and Bauer was a mentor to Crawford Seeger. An interest in American folk music also runs throughout the oeuvre of Beach and Crawford Seeger in particular.

Dolce Suono Ensemble commissioned Jennifer Higdon to write a new work to receive its world premiere as part of this project. She takes American art as her inspiration for American Canvas for Flute, Cello, and Piano, with movements entitled Georgia O’Keefe, Jackson Pollock, and Andrew Wyeth. She writes that the piece is based on “three American artists…each with a distinctive palette and artistic process…each with a style that is recognizable with even the quickest glance.”

We pair Higdon’s trio with another trio for flute, cello, and piano by Andrea Clearfield, Spirit Island, inspired by the composer’s canoe trip on Maligne Lake in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The piece is a musical evocation of the natural world in this part of the North American landscape.

Dolce Suono Ensemble joins with Opera Philadelphia as a co-promotion partner for this project, as Higdon’s new work will be presented in conjunction with the East coast premiere of her opera Cold Mountain by Opera Philadelphia.


The Artists

Sarah Shafer, soprano

Mimi Stillman, flute

Nathan Vickery, cello

Charles Abramovic, piano

The Program

Amy Beach, Romance; Songs, Op. 100 for soprano, flute, cello, and piano; selected songs

Marion Bauer, selected works for piano; Prelude and Fugue for Flute and Piano

Ruth Crawford Seeger, Animal Songs

Andrea Clearfield, Spirit Island for Flute, Cello, and Piano

Jennifer Higdon, American Canvas for Flute, Cello, and Piano [world premiere]


Sunday, January 24, 2016 at 3:00pm

Field Concert Hall, Curtis Institute of Music

1726 Locust Street, Philadelphia


Tickets: General $30 / Senior $25 / Student $10

Available online here, by phone, or at the door