Flutist and composer Valerie Coleman performs ‘Wish Sonatine’ and other works
October 2, 2019
Flutist and composer Valerie Coleman will perform with pianist Richard Masters on Oct. 7 at 8 p.m. in the Squires Recital Salon on Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus. The recital is a part of the Music on Monday series presented by the Virginia Tech School of Performing Arts.
Coleman has been hailed as one of the “top 35 female composers in classical music” by critic Anne Midgette of The Washington Post. Coleman has garnered prestigious awards — including the Herb Alpert Awards Ragdale Prize, Van Lier Fellowship, MAPFund, ASCAP Honors Award, Chamber Music America’s Classical Commissioning Program — as well as nominations from United States Artists and the Academy of Arts and Letters.
Recently, Coleman’s “UMOJA: Anthem for Unity” was performed by The Philadelphia Orchestra. This is the first time the orchestra has ever performed a work by a living African American female composer.
Coleman’s flute recital at Virginia Tech will feature a program of her own compositions and will include faculty and guest artist performers Elizabeth Crone, flute; Tabatha Easley, bass flute; Gunnery Sgt. Cynthia Rugolo, piccolo; and Yevgeny Dokshansky, clarinet. Featured compositions will include “Suite: Portraits of Langston,” “Wish Sonatine,” and “UMOJA: Anthem of Unity.”
“Suite: Portraits of Langston” is a six-movement trio written for flute, clarinet, and piano. Each movement contemplates a selected Langston Hughes poem, intended to be read in tandem with the performance. Coleman’s notes to the score explain that she was inspired by Hughes’ eyewitness experience of the legendary artists and places associated with the Harlem Renaissance and Parisian cabarets of the 1920s.
“Wish Sonatine,” Coleman’s first composition for flute and piano, was commissioned in 2015 by Masters and Crone, sponsored by a grant from the Diversity Committee of the Virginia Tech College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. “Wish Sonatine” was premiered and performed by Masters and Crone at the Mid-Atlantic Flute Convention and the Keynote Recital (honoring Coleman) of the National Flute Convention in Washington, D.C. The piece is based upon the historical journey of the Middle Passage — the selling, trading, and transporting of slaves from Africa to the New World — and was inspired and based upon the poem of the same title by poet and author Fred D’Aguiar.
“UMOJA: Anthem of Unity,” a joyful and uplifting piece, will be performed as a flute quartet, featuring Easley (a professor of flute at Virginia Commonwealth University); Rugolo (master gunnery sergeant of the President’s Own Marine Band); and Crone (a senior lecturer of flute at Virginia Tech). This original composition, a “groove-based” melody, calls for unity through the tradition of call and response. “Umoja,” the Swahili word for “unity,” is also the first day in the African American celebration of Kwanzaa.
Coleman is regularly featured as a performer and composer within many of the world’s great concert venues, series, and conservatories, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Kennedy Center. She is the founder, creator, and former flutist of the Grammy-nominated Imani Winds, one of the world’s premier chamber music ensembles. She is also an assistant professor of performance, chamber music, and entrepreneurship at the University of Miami.
Masters is a faculty member at the Virginia Tech School of Performing Arts, as well as an opera coach, a chamber musician, and an orchestral pianist. He serves as an assistant professor of piano and collaborative piano. His significant collaborations include concerts with baritone Donnie Ray Albert, mezzo-soprano Marta Senn, the late mezzo-soprano Barbara Conrad, and many others. He has performed solo, chamber, and vocal recitals throughout the United States and in Europe.
Masters looks forward to welcoming Coleman back to Virginia Tech after her appearance with the Imani Winds in 2012. “She’s a lot of fun to work with,” he said, “and she has a strong passion for what she does.”
Tickets for the performance are $15 for general admission, $12 for seniors, and $10 for students. Tickets may be purchased online, at the Squires Ticket Office, or by calling 540-231-5615 during ticket office hours.
Upcoming concerts in the Music on Mondays series include ACUTE Sax Trio on Oct. 21, Ceruti String Quartet on Nov. 11, and Sara Davis Buechner on Nov. 18. View all School of Performing Arts events here.