I am thrilled to be embarking on a new project dedicated to Maud Powell. Maud Powell was born in Peru, Illinois, in 1867. She began studying the violin in Aurora, Illinois and became the first prominent American violin soloist, male or female. Maud earned international acclaim for her skill and virtuosity. She brought much of the European repertoire back to the United States, including performing the American premieres of the Tchaikovsky and Sibelius concerti. She also popularized the violin recital format that we know and love today and was one of the first instrumentalists to record Red Seal Records for the Victor Talking Machine company. Maud commissioned and performed works by female and black composers, which was very rare in the Victorian era. Notable collaborators include Amy Beach and Marion Bauer. Maud Powell was posthumously awarded the GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.
For my project, I have commissioned five solo violin works from American female composers Lauren Bernofsky, Elisabeth Blair, Stephanie Ann Boyd, Jessica Meyer, and Hilary Purrington. Each composer has been given a copy of the official Maud Powell biography, Karen Shaffer's Maud Powell: Pioneer American Violinist, and will compose a five to ten-minute work dedicated to the spirit and legacy of Maud Powell. These works will be completed in December 2019 and recorded in Kalamazoo, Michigan in spring 2020. A recital tour of the works will include performances in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, and Wyoming. A children's educational program, featuring narrator, will be composed in collaboration with Elisabeth Blair and premiered in Burlington, VT and performed at public libraries across the United States. A program featuring dancers from Life/Art Dance Ensemble will be performed across Colorado, including outreach performances for senior citizens in low-income housing.
Special thanks to Karen Shaffer and the Maud Powell Society for supporting this project. Stay tuned for project updates!