Nov. 13 Sunday Recital is “Crossing the Lines”

The Sunday Recital Series at Mary Baldwin University continues on November 13 with soprano Melissa Sumner Swisher, flutist Erin Murphy, and pianist Tonya Menard. The concert, titled “Crossing the Lines,” is at 3 p.m. in Francis Auditorium.

Menard, Swisher, and Murphy met and became good friends during their time as students in the doctoral program at James Madison University. “We’ve been looking forward to performing a concert together for a long time,” explains Menard, “and we have really enjoyed putting this program together.” All three are active performers and teachers — Menard and Murphy are both on the faculty of Mary Baldwin University — and they all have a wide range of musical interests. Their program on November 13 reflects many of these interests, including opera and other classical works, along with traditional Irish Music, Native-American music, and folk songs of Scotland.

The trio will open with a familiar work by J. S. Bach, and then Murphy and Menard will perform two Irish reels, “The Dancing Bear” and “Cup of Tea.” Traditional Irish music is one of Erin Murphy’s specialties, and she is the leader and founder of the tradition Irish session at Corgans’ Publick House in Harrisonburg. “The reels on the program are a sampling of two of my favorite Irish dance tunes,” says Murphy. Later in the program, she will perform some Native-American music: “I became interested in Native-American flute music when I was given a handmade Native-American flute made from a 1,500-year-old tree trunk,” she said.

Melissa Sumner Swisher is a dramatic soprano who regularly performs in Wagner operas, and she will sing an aria from The Ring Cycle on this program, along with some lighter American songs by Bolcom, Copland, and Rorem. She and Menard will also perform several humorous songs by American Gordon Myers, including “Mae West” and “Husband for Sale.”

Menard will also treat the audience to several movements from George Crumb’s Little Suite for Christmas, a fascinating piece that makes use of extended techniques, such as muted tones and pizzicato (inside the piano), in addition to material performed on the keyboard in the conventional fashion. The trio will close the program with a well-known work by Delibes — the beautiful “Flower Duet” from Lakme.

Tickets for November 13 may be purchased at the door and are $5 for the general public and $4 for students and seniors (free for MBU students). Season tickets are also available. To purchase tickets online or find more information, visit or call 540-887-7294.