CSU’s Ladies Night Concert Features Women Composers

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Music-lovers attending Columbus State University’s Schwob School of Music concerts are accustomed to the works of Beethoven, Mozart and other male composers.

That changes with a Ladies Night concert at 4 p.m. Sunday in RiverCenter’s Legacy Hall. Ladies Night will feature exclusively the works of women composers, performed by two of the school’s female faculty artists.

Yien Wang, Michelle DeBruynSoprano Michelle DeBruyn, who teaches voice, and collaborative pianist Yien Wang will perform 11 works of composers such as Clara Schumann, Chien Yi and Libby Larson at their Ladies Night concert.

DeBruyn is no stranger to singing the works of female composers, previously staging a recital celebrating the works of 20th century women composers. A few months ago, she and Wang decided to honor female composers from a broader span of time, with works selected from several eras dating to the 12th century.

Prior to the 20th century, published female composers were a rarity. Hundreds of earlier musical works were written by women and denied publication based on gender alone, DeBruyn said.

Schumann, one of the Romantic era’s best-known composers, wrote in her diary that she had nearly given up on the craft as no woman had yet experienced success as a composer.

Since Schumann’s time, women have persevered and experienced success. Larson is now among America’s most prolific and most performed classical composers, creating the three-movement, story-telling Cowboy Songs that will be performed Sunday.  Yi is a leading contemporary Chinese composer who Wang and DeBruyn have actually conversed with via email.

“(Yi) was really excited and happy we are featuring her work,” said Wang, a native of Shanghai.

Yi recommended the work of her student, Yu Jiang, and one of her compositions was selected for Ladies Night as well. DeBruyn sings Jiang’s composition in Chinese, and the two artists collaborated over the summer as Wang guided DeBruyn on the meaning of the piece’s words.

“She’s done really well singing in Chinese,” Wang said. “It’s really been a pleasure to work with Shelley.”

DeBruyn grinned in agreement. “We definitely don’t have to be forced to work together,” she said.

Sunday afternoon’s concert is free. For more information contact schwobmusic@ColumbusState.edu or 706-649-7225 .

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Photo: Yien Wang, Michelle DeBruyn (high-resolution version)