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Marietta Dean (WIU VPC Photo)

Sculpture Dedication to Honor Marietta Dean, Her work with Women Composers

April 14, 2011


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MACOMB, IL – An art dedication reception honoring Western Illinois University School of Music Professor Emerita Marietta Dean will be held from 3-5 p.m. Sunday, April 17 in the Multicultural Center first floor multipurpose/activity room on the WIU-Macomb campus. This event is open free to the public.

The reception honoring Dean's advocacy of women composers will mark the official dedication of the sculpture/assemblage, "Pandora's Dance," by local artist and retired art teacher Constance "Connie" DeMuth Berg, who is making the donation to the WIU Women's Center (in the Multicultural Center) in honor of Dean for her advocacy of music by historical and contemporary women composers at the local, state, national and international levels.

Dean developed this specialty in teaching and performing songs by women composers throughout her 42 years (1967-2009) of service as a vocal music professor at Western and as a worldwide performer.

The "Pandora's Dance" sculpture/assemblage in honor of Dean, who has studied, taught and sung the works of African American, Hispanic, international and American women composers, will be placed in the space where both the Gwendolyn Brooks Dance Troupe and the Tradición Hispana Dance Troupe rehearse, according to Women's Center Director Janine Cavicchia.

"The Women's Center is honored to add this sculpture to our art collection and to house it prominently on the first floor of the Multicultural Center," Cavicchia said.

The reception will include a program with Dean speaking about some of her work and experiences, and remarks provided by some of Dean's colleagues and friends.

"On behalf of the Women's Center and the Macomb Feminist Network (MFN), and in collaboration with WIU's School of Music, I invite friends and colleagues of Marietta and Connie to attend the reception and to share reflections of their contributions and influence through the years," Cavicchia added.

While promoting women composers, Dean has performed and lectured at festivals on three continents, across the continental U.S., Alaska, Europe, Australia, Japan and Costa Rica, where at the capital in San Jose she was invited to present the featured piano/vocal recital at the International Congress of Women. In Vienna, Austria, under the auspices of the International Alliance for Women in Music, Dean sang a solo work, with electronics, dedicated to AIDS victims at the time of the 50th year celebration of the end of WWII. She reprised the same work shortly after at the International Congress of Women held in Adelaide, Australia. In two cities in Japan, under the sponsorship of a utility company, Dean featured in her concerts a selection of songs with violin obligato by the early 20th century American composer Amy Beach.

With support from the Women's Center and other WIU funding, Dean invited Hispanic composer Mercedes Zavala as a guest performer/speaker for a Hispanic celebration concert, featuring the premiere of a vocal chamber work composed by Zavala for mezzo-soprano Dean, who on the same program performed songs by the early 20th century Mexican composer Maria Grever.

In Zagreb and Belgrad, Dean premiered a set of songs by the Korean-American composer Yong Suk Woon for the installation "America Now," sponsored by the U.S. State Department. Dean performed the same work by Woon at Carneige Hall in the Weill Recital Hall.

For a sabbatical project in Paris, Dean researched the legacy of songs by Nadia Boulanger, the vocal works of Nadia's sister, Lili, and Nadia's Anglo-American women pupils, and followed that research with full solo recitals. The following summer, she disseminated that information at the Conference of the National Association of Teachers of Singing.

More recently, Dean invited pianist/collaborator Anna Wagner, from the University of Vienna, to conduct master classes on several occasions with WIU vocal students. Dean has teamed with Austrian pianist Leonora Suppan-Gehrich to perform recitals at Western, at festivals across the U.S. and abroad. Also with Suppan-Gehrich, Dean has researched and performed songs by women exile composers from Hitler's Third Reich.

In her championing of European, Asian and American women composers, Dean has sought out and performed little known music by African American women composers. With her pianist collaborators Suppan-Gehrich, James Magsig (retired from WIU), and WIU colleague James Lynn Thompson, Dean has been invited on three occasions to festivals honoring African American Women composers at Murray State University (KY), the University of Dayton (OH) and Hampton University (VA).

With current Western Illinois staff accompanist/composer Gregory Martin, Dean participated this spring in a four-day Athena Festival in Murray, KY, where she sang a lecture recital featuring three German and Austrian 19th century women composers.

Continuing with her dedication to performing and disseminating knowledge about women composers, Dean, with piano collaborator Nicholas Phillips, will travel in July to Seoul and Gyeongju, South Korea, to perform and speak at the International Conference of the College Music Society.

Dean has studied in France; at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria; the Academia Chigiana in Siena, Italy; as well as with Paolo Silveri of Rome. In addition to festivals and conferences and premieres for composers, she has performed as a soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the St. Louis Orchestra. She is an esteemed graduate (Bachelor of Music and Master of Music) of the University of Cincinnati – College Conservatory; and she sang for six years professionally while a student, appearing in the Cincinnati Summer Opera Festival in more than 25 operas.

Posted By: WIU News (U-Relations@wiu.edu)
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