An Afternoon of French Music at Next Sunday Recital

Mary Baldwin’s Sunday Recital Series continues at 3 p.m. on October 27 in Francis Auditorium with an afternoon of French music. Soprano Melissa Sumner and pianist Lynne Mackey will present “Fantasies from France,” a recital which explores vocal and piano works from the 19th and 20th centuries.

One of the featured composers is Olivier Messiaen, a 20th-century composer known for his creative use of color, innovative rhythms, and interest in birdsong. Sumner and Mackey will open the program with Messiaen’s Trois melodies, which he wrote in memory of his mother. They will also perform selections from the song cycle Poemes Pour Mi.

“Mi was Messiaen’s nickname for his wife, Claire,” explains Sumner.  “The cycle explores relationships: between man and woman, husband and wife, Christ and the Church, and man and his creator.”

In addition, Mackey will treat the audience to some appealing works for solo piano, including Claude Debussy’s “Evening in Granada,” a beautiful piecea by Gabriel Faure, and two works by Maurice Ravel (the lovely J’eux d’eau and the brilliant Alborada del grazioso).

Melissa Sumner has appeared in opera, oratorio, and recital throughout the United States and Europe, at venues such as the New York Lyric Opera, the Kennedy Center, Ashlawn Opera Festival, Operafestival di Roma, and the Mittelsäschsisches Theater in Freiberg, Germany. She has performed a wide range of operatic roles, including Suor Angelica in Suor Angelica, Hannah in The Merry Widow, Susannah in Le Nozze di Figaro, and Sieglinde and Helmwige in Die Walküre. This season she will sing the roles of Freia in Das Rhinegold and Helmwige in Die Walküre with the Wagner Opera Theater in New York.  She has taught at Mary Baldwin University and James Madison University.

Pianist Lynne Mackey maintains an active performance schedule and has appeared in solo and chamber music settings in the United States, Europe, and Africa. Highlights of her current season include a 4-month residency in Paris at the Cité Internationale des Arts, beginning in January of 2014. She is currently Director of the Virginia Baroque Performance Academy and has taught at Eastern Mennonite University and Mary Baldwin University.

All Sunday Recitals are at 3 p.m. in Francis Auditorium, in the Pearce Science Center on the Mary Baldwin University campus. Tickets may be purchased at the door and are $5 for the general public and $4 for seniors and students. (Mary Baldwin students attend free of charge.) For more information call 540-887-7294 or visit