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SCF faculty trio honors female composers

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  • | 4:00 a.m. April 16, 2014
"Throughout baroque, classical and romantic periods there were women writing," Felicia Brunelle says. "There were women prodigies." (Photo by Mallory Gnaegy)
"Throughout baroque, classical and romantic periods there were women writing," Felicia Brunelle says. "There were women prodigies." (Photo by Mallory Gnaegy)
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It didn’t matter if the trio paired the piece with Beethoven, Brahms or Mendelssohn — people complimented composer Gwyneth Walker’s piece “A Vision of Hills” the most.

Violinist Felicia Brunelle, cellist Alfred Gratta and guest pianist Cheryl Tschanz have been playing together as a trio for four years, and they’ve played that song a lot. But, Brunelle thought enough time had passed that it was time to pull it back out for the April 21 State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota faculty recital, which will highlight the work of women composers.

Brunelle is the link that brought the concert together. She’s been a violin teacher at the college for more than a decade. Plus, she’s also a member of Sarasota Orchestra and concertmaster for Sarasota Pops Orchestra. Interestingly enough, she’s also a licensed acupuncturist.

She and Gratta have known each other since before they became faculty members at SCF. They met in the Missouri Symphony (a six-week summer festival orchestra) where Brunelle is still the concertmaster.

Brunelle met guest pianist Tschanz when they both studied music at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Tschanz was always Brunelle’s favorite person to accompany. When Tschanz moved to Orlando, Brunelle decided they needed to work together.

A poster on Tschanz’s office wall helped inspire the concert. It names women composers through the centuries. In the 1600s, there are only a few names. Each century, the number of names grows by paragraphs.

Brunelle calls it a picture of women’s rights — they didn’t start being recognized for their talents until much later than male composers.

This concert will honor and celebrate female composers from as early as 1756. Brunelle learned a lot of interesting facts while putting the concert’s repertoire together.

For instance, she had never heard of Ana Bon, the earliest of the female composers. She’s a baroque composer who composed pieces as young as age 16, but then wasn’t written about again after she married. Historians don’t even know the date she died. Or Amy Beach, who was self-taught and was composing waltzes at age 5. Beach gave up composing when she married, but when her husband died she returned to music.

Most of the women in the concert were child prodigies. Even Gwyneth Walker knew she wanted to compose at a young age. Each woman has an interesting story that the trio will share at the concert. Walker will be there in person.

“It’s not because women were born talented all the sudden by some genetic weirdness,” Brunelle says. “They were always talented and it’s just being acknowledged. Who knows what we lost by not acknowledging this?”

if you go
Brunelle and Gratta faculty recital
When: 8 p.m. Monday, April 21
Where: Neel Performing Arts Center, building 11 East, 5840 26th St. W.
Cost: Tickets $8 | Info: Call 752-5252



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