SkellIg for Cello & Piano

Ailbhe McDonagh has earned international recognition both as a soloist and chamber musician.  She is a member of the Ficino Ensemble and the traditional Irish music crossover group Trio Elatha. Ailbhe is also an established composer with over 250 published works and commissions to her name.  She has released several collections of her pedagogical music through London-based publishers Boosey & Hawkes, notably the popular book series It’s a Piano Thing (2017) and It’s a Cello Thing (2021). Ailbhe has also composed pieces for violin, viola, double bass, guitar, harp and ukulele. The composition Skellig portrays the iconic Skellig islands off the west coast of Ireland - it is atmospheric and powerful. divider

 女人花  The Flower of a Woman 

These 2 Chinese songs celebrate women, not as the composers, but as the famous performers.

Anita Mui Flower Woman is famously performed by Anita Mui, a hugely famous singer and actress who has been dubbed the Madonna of the East (東方麥當娜). She remained an idol throughout her career and is considered one of the most iconic Cantopop singers. Mui was known for dancing and on-stage femininity.  She was famed for her costumes and high-powered performances in tandem with her contralto vocals, which are rare in female artists.

青藏高原  Qing Zang Gao Yuan, "Tibetan Plateau"

Niu Zhihong (born July 25, 1963), better known by her stage name Li Na, is a Chinese folk singer also known in China for singing many theme songs from highly-popular TV series, and she was also a singer of Yüjü opera, one of China's famous national operas. In 1997 she became a Buddhist nun and has since released several albums of Buddhist music. Today we will perform one of her signature songs, "Qingzang Gaoyuan" (青藏高原, "Tibetan Plateau"), the theme song of the 1994 TV series Heaven Road (天路). The song "Qingzang Gaoyuan" (青藏高原), evokes the Himalayan plateau, which is the vast plateau in central Asia and has an average elevation of over 4,500 meters (~15,000 feet)! This has many of the highest mountains in the world, including Everest.

Nocturne for Flute and Harp

Lili Boulanger was born Marie-Juliette Olga ‘Lili’ Boulanger on 21 August 1893 and was one of the 21st century’s brightest stars in music and the arts. A promising talent from a very early age, Boulanger was a multi-instrumentalist and composer, who shared her musical genius with the world right up to her untimely death in 1918, at just 24 years old. At the age of 19, she first woman to win the Prix de Rome, the most prestigious honor for artists at the time. Lili Boulanger’s Nocturne was published in 1911 and originally written for violin and piano. This short work is typical of Boulanger with whole-tone harmonies combined with graceful melodies and an air of delicateness in its scoring.  

“Clouds and the Hunter” from
Log Cabin Sketches

Margaret B. Hoberg Turrell (1890 – 1948) was an American composer and organist who published her music under the name Margaret Hoberg. She was born in 1890 in Terre Haute, Indiana. She began performing publicly on the piano when she was twelve years old. She studied music for one year in Berlin, two years in Paris, and in New York City, where she gave concerts of her compositions and worked as an organist.  Her "Harp Concerto" premiered at Carnegie Hall in 1919. 

“Nimbus” from Seasonal Suite

Laura Zaerr began playing the harp at the age of ten. She obtained a bachelor's degree in music performance and composition at the University of Oregon, and a master's degree in harp performance at the Eastman School of Music. While at Eastman she recorded with Wynton Marsalis, Benita Valente, and James Galway.


Phantasy Trio 1940

Joan Trimble (18 June 1915 – 6 August 2000) was an Irish composer and pianist.  She and her sister performed for many years as a celebrated piano duo, and as a result, composed several pieces for piano duo. She grew up in a musical household and later moved to London to study at the Royal College of Music, where one of her teachers was Ralph Vaughn Williams.  Her "Phantasy for Piano” trio (1940), written at the suggestion of Vaughan Williams, won the Cobbett Prize for chamber music and the Sullivan Prize for composition. Joan Trimble's music was conservative for her time and showed interest in Irish traditional music. Her work combines impressionist harmonic language with melodic and rhythmic inflections derived from Irish traditional music. She said that she wrote her music with regard neither to schools nor periods. 
"Shape and form, rhythm and clarity, as well as freedom of expression, are all important. I am free to be myself regardless of fashion.”


“Ring of Keys” from Fun Home

Jeanine Tesori is an incredibly exciting contemporary composer with a widely accessible musical style. She is known primarily for her work composing for musicals but has also written operas.  Tesori has 5 Tony Award nominations amongst a wide output of musicals, notably winning the Tony Award for Best Original Score in 2015 for Fun Home. Tesori's musical style often blurs the lines between musical theater and opera. Tesori’s works are often sung through, effortlessly tying the music and libretto together. Tesori has composed with such diverse styles as jazz, folk, blues, and spiritual music. 

Lisa Kron grew up in Lansing, Michigan, and moved to New York after college. As a teenager and young woman in Michigan and New York, she pursued acting in straight plays, increasingly dissatisfied with the roles for women, and especially LGBTQ women. Lisa found her way to the WOW Cafe, a hotbed for experimental lesbian-centered work in New York’s East Village, and it was here she found a like-minded tribe of theater-makers devising their own work and writing their own plays. She later formed the Five Lesbian Brothers. Lisa’s solo work and plays have garnered rave reviews, winning OBIE, Drama-Logue, and GLAAD Awards. She has earned Tony nominations for her plays Well and Fun Home, including Best Musical of 2015 for Fun Home

Alison Bechdel Author and cartoonist Alison Bechdel was born in Beech Creek, Pennsylvania, to Helen and Bruce Bechdel. Bruce, her father, operated a funeral home part-time, which Alison and her brothers, Bruce and John, called the Fun Home. At the age of 19, she came out to her parents as a lesbian. A later conversation with her father revealed his intimate past with other men. This discovery brought more questions than answers when Bruce committed suicide shortly after. In 1983, Bechdel first garnered success for her comics with the strip Dykes to Watch Out For, originally published in the feminist newspaper WomaNews. Her comic strip ran until 2008, becoming one of the first representations of lesbians in popular culture. Her closeted childhood was the basis for her autobiographical cartoon Fun Home, released in 2006, and in 2013 then turned into a musical with particular emphasis on her relationship to her father, Bruce. Bechdel's coming out as a lesbian is complicated by the revelation that Bruce was a closeted homosexual whose extra-marital affairs included underage males.

“How Could I Ever Know” from
The Secret Garden

Lucy Simon When The Secret Garden opened at the St. James Theatre in 1991, Lucy Simon was the third woman in history to compose for the Broadway stage. Ms. Simon has garnered multiple honors for her work, including Grammy and Drama Desk Awards and a Tony nomination for Best Score. She received the 2018 Samuel French Award for Sustained Excellence in American Theater. The Secret Garden has enjoyed numerous productions internationally and throughout the United States. Ms. Simon composed the music for the stage musical of Boris Pasternak’s Nobel Prize-winning novel Doctor Zhivago. Ms. Simon wrote and produced the songs and soundtrack for the multi-award-winning HBO movie The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader Murdering Mom, and received two Grammy Awards for her In Harmony albums, which she co-wrote and produced. 

Marsha Norman is a prolific playwright, screenwriter, and novelist who since the early 1980s has been one of the best-known writers in American drama. She has won the Pulitzer Prize, Tony Awards, and a long list of other major honors. Many of her plays are about family dynamics and relationships. Norman became famous after the New York production of her play ‘night, Mother, which won Norman the 1983 Pulitzer Prize in drama, a Drama Desk Award, and a Tony Award nomination. Her musical The Secret Garden won a Tony and Drama Desk awards in 1992. She went on to write the book for the Broadway musical The Color Purple, getting a Tony nomination for the original 2005 production, and a Tony Award in 2016. Norman has been a prolific writer for television and film, with credits on a dozen projects. Her other awards include the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Guild Academy of Arts & Letters and the William Inge Distinguished Lifetime Achievement in Theater.

Rima for Piccolo and Piano

Marilyn Bliss Iowa-born Marilyn Bliss has written many widely performed orchestral, chamber, and solo works. Educated at Coe College and the University of Pennsylvania, her teachers include such distinguished composers as George Crumb, George Rochberg, Jacob Druckman, Jerry Owen, and Harvey Sollberger. Her many awards include a Charles Ives Prize from the American Academy/Institute of Arts and Letters, an ASCAP Young Composers Award, Newly Published Flute Music awards from the National Flute Association, fellowships from Tanglewood, the Composers Conference, and the New York Foundation for the Arts, and commissions from the Azure Ensemble, Haydn-Mozart Chamber Orchestra, the Philadelphia Art Alliance, the Powell Quartet, the flutists James Zellers, James Pellerite, and Nina Assimakopoulos, and the National Flute Association. Several of Ms. Bliss’s recent scores have featured the Native American flute, both as a solo instrument and in combination with other instruments. Ms. Bliss is currently President of New York Women Composers. 

Notes about the composition from the composer: Rima for piccolo and piano is based on a character from William Henry Hudson's 1904 novel Green Mansions. Set in the Amazon, Green Mansions features the character of a girl-creature of the forest who communicates in a bird-like language. In Rima, the piccolo portrays the character over the course of a day, from the first stirrings of dawn, through the animation of midday, to the bittersweet quiet of dusk. Rima was commissioned and premiered by the Piccolo Committee of the National Flute Association. It is used as a standard competition piece by the NFA.

Down by the Sally Garden,

When You Are Old,

& A Dawn Song

Mary McAuliffe Mary McAuliffe lives in County Wicklow and is a graduate of University College, Cork, Ireland. Her works include vocal and choral, instrumental, opera, music for youth, and video soundtracks that have been published by Delos International, Hal Leonard, under Henry Leck’s Choral Artistry Series, and Earthsongs, Portland, Oregon.

In Ireland, Mary’s work is represented by the Contemporary Music Centre, and is featured in the Directory of Irish Composers.  Her music has been performed by leading Irish soloists and choral organizations and is frequently presented at the National Concert Hall, in Dublin.

Since 1997, with her first US performance as part of a St. Patrick’s Eve celebration of Irish sacred music by the Glenn Chancel Choir, conductor Steven Darsey, at Glenn Memorial UMC on Emory University’s campus, Mary’s work has been commissioned and widely performed by eminent soloists and choral organizations throughout North America including The Michael O’Neal Singers, Roswell, GA;  Conspirare Youth Choir, Austin, TX;  Columbia Pro Cantare, Columbia, MD;  The Indianapolis Children’s’ Choir, Henry Leck; IN,  The Chamber Choir of Grand Rapids, MI;  Minnesota Centre Chorale; MN;  Spivey Hall Childrens’ Choir, Atlanta, GA;  The Newfoundland Youth Symphony Choir, NF;  and by a number of US University soloists, choruses, and instrumentalists.

Mary is a frequent visitor to the US for performances of her music. Her Return to Old Ireland, commissioned by the Michael O’Neal Singers for their 10th Anniversary on St. Patrick’s Day 2000, and the title work of Delos’ release The Music of Mary McAuliffe, has received many US performances, always to wide acclaim.  This work now forms the finale of An Irish American Trilogy, with Leaving, A Famine Victim’s Cry, and An American Odyssey, charting the journey of an Irish immigrant to the US at the time of the Great Irish Famine, and culminating in the triumphant return to home.  This Trilogy personifies the strong bonds between the two nations and has moved audiences, not just of Irish descent, but on a universal level. 

Mary frequently uses her own text for her compositions, (Leaving, a Famine Victim’s Cry), often mixing with the work of great poets, Walt Whitman, W. B. Yeats, (Return to Old Ireland), and the texts of the great American storyteller Kate Chopin, (Song Cycle from The Awakening).  Her opera, The Selfish Giant is based on the story by Oscar Wilde.  Her work is often folk-like in character and also has been said to have a rather spiritual quality.  Mary is deeply honored to have these three of her Yeats songs (from the song cycle, 7 Songs of W. B. Yeats), performed here at Willamette University.  The songs have been specially revised for Dr. Crystal Zimmerman and Baritone Nicolai Strömmer. 

Mary sends warmest St. Patrick’s Day greetings from Ireland! From the Composer:

“To me, there are two key elements: how best to portray a text to be meaningful to performers and audience and, in its absence, make instruments speak so that what has been said may prove memorable. My music is melodic and immediately accessible. Medieval, traditional, modal, deeply spiritual elements feature strongly.”

Down By The Salley Gardens

Down by the salley gardens my love and I did meet 
She passed the salley gardens with little snow-white feet 
She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree; 
But I, being young and foolish, with her would not agree.  

In a field by the river my love and I did stand, 
And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white hand. 
She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs; 
But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears. 

A Dawn Song:

From the waves the sun hath reeled, 
Proudly in his saffron walking; 
Sleep, in some far other field, 
Goes his poppies now a-hawking; 
From the hills of earth have pealed 
Murmurs of her children talking – 
My companions, two and two, 
Gathering mushrooms in the dew. 

Wake, ma cushla, sleepy headed, 
Trembles as a bell of glass 
All Heaven’s floor, with vapours bedded 
And along the mountain pass. 
With their mushrooms lightly threaded 
On their swaying blades of grass, 
My companions, two and two, 
Gathering mushrooms in the dew. 

Wake! The heron rising, 
Hath showered away the keen dewdrops; 
Weasel warms him on the pat, 
Half asleep, the old cow crops. 
In the fairy haunted rath, 
Dewey tongued, the daisy tops, 
We will wander, I and you, 
Gathering mushrooms in the dew. 

For your feet the morning prayeth 
We will find her favourite lair, 
Straying as the heron strayeth, 
As the moorfowl and the hare. 
While the morning star decayeth  
In the bosom of the air, 
Gayest wanderers, I and you, 
Gathering mushrooms in the dew. 

When You Are Old:

When you are old and grey and full of sleep, 
And nodding by the fire, take down this book, 
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look 
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep. 

How many loved your moments of glad grace, 
And loved your beauty with love false or true, 
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you, 
And loved the sorrows of your changing face. 

And bending down beside the glowing bars, 
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled 
And paced upon the mountains overhead 
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars. 


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