Album Project: Identity in North American Piano Music

The first phase of Identity in North American Piano Music is complete – the filming of videos featuring three composers from the project. Click below to watch the videos.

This project is supported by the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County, Raleigh Arts, and the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

About the project:

The composers on the project represent the variety of sounds heard in 20th and 21st century music that subtly expresses their experiences challenging cultural norms. This is the first phase of a larger plan to perform these works in live concerts and lecture recitals. The compositions include works by American composers Florence Price, Chen Yi, and Amy Beach (three of the most prolific female American composers to date), Aaron Copland, Lou Harrison, and Canadian composers Denis Gougeon and Jean Coulthard.

Featuring composers who write about their dual or mixed identity, each dealt with some sense of otherness in society. Their experiences represent the kaleidoscope of human experiences in the modern landscape of Canada and the United States. This includes navigating questions of identity and belonging with respect to feminism and female leadership (Beach, Coulthard, Chen, Price), sexuality (Harrison and Copland), racial inclusion (Chen, Price), and blended cultures (Chen, Gougeon).

Framed in today’s social context, the dissonances heard in these works are combined with consonant harmonies. There is an order within the chaos that even novice listeners will recognize. These composers explored sounds and methods of composing that may not have seemed intuitive, but formed cohesion through the inner conflict and the broken barriers, both musically and personally. Their music gives voice to experiences we have today, lives that are riddled with inner and outer conflict with ourselves and others. They can help us root our experience to the past and understand what it has been and continues to be like to live as a North American. They can forge a path of understanding, from where we have been to where we are now, and help us to create a future of more depth and creativity.

To learn more about Jean Coulthard and Canadian women composers, visit my page on this and the presentation I gave in September 2022 at the KMTA Conference.

Album coming soon!