MSU President's Column for Traill County Tribune

March 3, 2018 

Concert featuring music by female composers planned in honor of Women’s History Month

In honor of Women’s History Month, a concert featuring music by all female composers is planned for Tuesday, March 30, 2018. It will begin at 7 p.m. in the Classroom Building Auditorium at Mayville State University. The Women in Music Concert is in its third year, honoring music by and for women. It is being sponsored by the MSU Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the MSU Music Department. Freewill donations to support MSU Music Department events will be taken at the door.

The Women in Music program will be made up of music spanning more than four centuries. Dr. Whitney Berry, a composer and instructor at the University of North Dakota will be the featured composer. Other composers who will be showcased are Clara Schumann, Amy Marcy Beach, Ethel Smyth, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Sara Bareilles, Addison Agen, and Cecile Chaminade.

Dr. Whitney Berry, a native Oakbank, Manitoba, Canada, teaches music theory and aural skills courses at the University of North Dakota and is a choral music composer. As a composer, she strives to write music that is both interesting and accessible to amateur performers. She writes in a predominantly classical style and her primarily a cappella works are characterized by the use of interesting harmonic shifts and colorations. Dr. Berry began composing at the age of 15.

She earned Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Education degrees from Brandon University, where she studied composition with Kenneth Nichols. While at Brandon, she received the 1996 Associated Manitoba Arts Festivals Award for Young Manitoba Composers for her collection of elementary piano pieces entitled Prairie Pictures. She completed a master’s degree in composition at the University of North Dakota, studying under James Fry.

In 1998, Berry was named runner-up winner in the Elizabeth and Michel Sorel Charitable Organization’s Young Women’s Composers Competition for her women’s choir piece, Prayer (2000), which was written in memory of the victims of the 1989 Montreal Massacre. Her choral works, including Prayer; Arise, My Love (2002); Ave Maria (2005); and Sanctus (2016) are published with Edward B. Marks Music.

Women in Music Concert performers will include Mayville State students; the MSU jazz band, under the director of Dr. Cody Hunter; Dr. Cody Hunter on bassoon; Miaoqian Lui on French horn; May-Port community members; Mei Chuan Lin, University of North Dakota graduate student, on piano; and the Drama Queens.

The Drama Queens, Joan Osland, Samantha DeLong, Teresa Agnes, Betsy Mortenson, Kathy Baldock, and Greta Paschke, are well-known in the local community for their productions of all-female musicals such as “Nunsense” and Beehive.” Their efforts have raised more than $12,000 for the MSU Theatre.

I hope you will mark your calendar and plan to attend the Women in Music Concert on March 30.

The MSU Music Department folks have another event planned for Sunday, March 4. The annual Spring Pops Concert will begin at 2 p.m. in the MSU Classroom Building Auditorium. The concert will feature the MSU concert band, jazz band, and concert choir. The concert is free and open to the public. It will no doubt be a pleasant way to spend your Sunday afternoon. I encourage you to come to campus and enjoy the entertainment our students and their directors have prepared.