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Listening to women: Community Music School launches free online series

Community Music School Lehigh Valley & Berks (CMS) premiered the first of three parts of its “Women in Music” lecture-recital series, noon Feb. 17.

The free lunchtime program will be held the third Wednesday in February, March and April on the Community Music School YouTube channel.

Recordings of the programs are to be archived on the YouTube channel.

The program was originally to be an in-person “brown-bag” program in 2020 but was canceled because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic shutdown. CMS faculty members Julia Katherine Walsh, soprano, and Dr. Tzu-Hwa Ho, piano, will present and perform selections for “Women in Music,” which explores the roles of women as muses, performers and composers.

“It has been a long time coming,” says Lisa M. Hopstock Kulp, CMS Assistant Director.

“The original series was scheduled to start March 18, 2020, which was the first week of the [Pennsylvania] governor-mandated closures.”

CMS was able to pivot to provide its private lessons online.

Attempts to reschedule the “Women in Music” program in fall 2020 fell through.

“When we realized that we would not be able to offer this as an in-person event anytime soon, Julia and Tzu-Hwa began researching software and methods to safely produce and record the program virtually,” says Hopstock.

The first part of the series, “Women as Muses,” features Richard Strauss’s “Mädchenblumen Lieder,” Opus 22, and Andre Previn’s “Three Dickinson Songs.”

“A majority of the repertoire that I sing has been composed by men and set to words written by men, who have been juxtaposed in history as motivated by rivalries or friendships with other virtuosic men,” says Julia Katherine Walsh.

“But recently, musicology is acknowledging a truer origin of many men’s compositions by giving credit to the women who were involved in them, and helped inspire, premiere, fund and sustain these creative geniuses and their pieces. We can appreciate them today even more by knowing their full story,” Walsh says.

Next on March 17 is “Women as Performers,” which will feature songs that were calling cards for singers such as Joan Sutherland, Kathleen Battle and Beverly Sills.

The final part on April 21 is “Women as Composers” and will highlight the works of female composers such as Clara Schumann, Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel, Gloria Coates and Amy H.H. Beach.

Tzu-Hwa Ho says the series is more than just a recital.

“The carefully-chosen repertoire will take the audience on a wonderful journey through the storied lives of these composers and poets,” says Ho.

The program is free to the public. Reservations should be made to receive the link and additional materials.

Viewers also will be able to chat and ask questions of the performers during the program.

Walsh has sung opera in the United States and Germany. She has sung the roles of Dido in Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas” and Queen of the Night in Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.” She has been teaching voice at CMS since 2018.

Ho is an experienced collaborative pianist, who has worked extensively with vocalists in art songs and operatic repertoire. At age 14, she made her concerto debut in the City Hall of Salerno, Italy. At 16, she gave her first solo recital in Taipei, Taiwan. She teaches piano at CMS and is a staff accompanist.

Tickets: cmslv.org/women-in-music-lecture-recital-to-go-virtual/

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY DON CARRICK Julia Katherine Walsh, soprano