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First Fridays April Event to Feature
Soprano Denise Myers of UW-Eau Claire

RELEASED: March 14, 2008

Denise Myers
Denise Myers

EAU CLAIRE — First Fridays invites senior citizens to a recital of art songs about "The Black Woman's Experience in America" on April 4, with soprano Denise Myers. Doors will open at 8:30 a.m. for breakfast and the program will follow at 9 a.m. at Christ Church Cathedral, located at the corner of Lake and Farwell streets in downtown Eau Claire.

Myers' program will provide a powerful intersection of poetry and music from the Harlem Renaissance through the civil rights era. Addressing the struggles and triumphs of black women in American society, the words of poets such as Langston Hughes and Mari Evans speak of hangings, assassinations, lunch counter sit-ins and domestic abuse. On a more humorous note, Hughes' "Madam, to You" poems follow interactions with the census man, the minister and even death.

Music by Dorothy Rudd Moore, Elie Siegmeister, David Baker, Noel da Costa and Leslie Adams will reflect the emotions in the poetry using elements of jazz and blues and a varied musical vocabulary that includes dissonance and atonality. Even da Costa's whimsical lullabies, "Two Songs for Julie Ju," have hints of sadness as a parent wishes for a better life for a child. The program will close with Leslie Adams' song, "The Heart of a Woman."

Myers holds a bachelor of music education degree from Virginia Commonwealth University, a master's degree in music from Indiana University and a doctorate in musical arts from the University of Minnesota. Myers is director of the Educational Opportunity Centers at UW-Eau Claire.

Myers will be joined by pianist Beverly Soll, assistant director of activities and programs for the University Centers at UW-Eau Claire. Previously, Soll was on the music faculties of Wayne State College, George Mason University and the State University of New York at Geneseo. A published music scholar, her most recent publication is "I Dream a World," a 2005 book on the operas of African-American composer William Grant Still.

Also featured on the program is violinist Soma Pierce Smit, a UW-Eau Claire graduate and director of orchestras at North and Memorial High Schools in Eau Claire. She also is a member of the Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra and the Chippewa Valley Symphony.

For the safety of the senior audience, the event will be cancelled if the Eau Claire Area School District cancels or delays classes because of hazardous weather.

First Fridays programs are presented the first Friday of each month October through May, except in January, at no cost to the senior community. People with season passes that are stamped each month will be eligible for a prize drawing at the May presentation.

The program is funded in part by the UW-Eau Claire Foundation Community Outreach Program for the Arts, the Great Harvest Bread Company and Elliot Roberts.

First Fridays is coordinated by Beverly Soll and Jennifer Brockpahler of the Activities and Programs office and is hosted by Scott and Heather Kirby of Christ Church Cathedral. The mission of First Fridays is to provide free entertainment and educational experiences for area senior citizens through shared community and university sponsorship.

For details about First Fridays or to be placed on a mailing list, call 715-836-2787.

-30-

JS/NW

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