The Julia Perry Centenary Celebration & Festival Schedule Announced

By Afton Wooten

The Experiential Orchestra and Videmus present the Julia Perry Centenary Celebration and Festival in New York City.

Julia Perry (1924-79) was an African-American composer, born in Lexington, Kentucky and raised in Akron, Ohio. She spent two summers at the Berkshire Music Center, studied with Luigi Dallapiccola and briefly with Nadia Boulanger. She won the Prix Fontainebleau and two Guggenheim Fellowships, and her Study for Orchestra was performed by the New York Philharmonic in 1965. Still many of her nearly 100 compositions remain unknown. J. Michele Edwards writes, “Her career was curtailed because of health problems, especially a paralytic stroke affecting her right side in 1971. Her letters reveal her effort to walk, talk, and conduct again. She did learn to write with her left hand and resumed composing; however, she endured tragic emotional and financial difficulties.”

This article features vocal works only.

Soprano Laquita Mitchell and pianist Dr. Samantha Ege open the festival. Together they perform Perry’s “By the Sea” and “How Beautiful are the Feet.”

Performance Date: March 13, 2024

Soprano Dr. Louise Toppin and conductor Christopher Wilkins give the keynote presentation, “Julia Perry in Akron, Ohio and the Publication of her Works.” Other presentations include “Julia Perry and Other Influential Women of Her Time” by Dr. Gayle Murchison, “Julia Perry in New York” by Dr. Garrett Schumann, “Was Julia Perry Exceptional?” by Dr. Philip Ewell, and more.

Performance Date: March 14, 2024

Bass-baritone Donnie Ray Albert and bariton Will Liverman perform “Quinary Quixotic Songs for Bass-Baritone and Five Instruments” and “Six Contrasts for Baritone,” respectively. Liverman is released from a performance of “Roméo et Juliette,” courtesy of The Metropolitan Opera to perform this evening.

Performance Date: March 14, 2024

Closing the festival Dr. Toppin will give the world premiere of Norpoth’s arrangement of “I’m a Poor Li’l Orphan in this World,” with the Experiential Orchestra. James Blachly conducts. She also solos in “Ye, Who Seek the Truth” (1952, arr. Norpoth) and is joined by the Ruckel Middle School Chorus and the Sandra Day O’Connor High School Orchestra.

Performance Date: March 16, 2024





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