Pianist David Berry Headlines Nov. 11 Sunday Recital

The Sunday Recital Series at Mary Baldwin University will continue on Nov. 11 with pianist David Berry, who will perform works of W. A. Mozart, Robert Schumann, George Walker, and Margaret Bonds.  The concert is at 3 p.m. in Francis Auditorium.

Berry’s performances have been featured in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, the UW World Series at the University of Washington, as well as live broadcasts on WQXR in New York City. He has been a concerto soloist with the Hudson Symphony Orchestra and Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival Orchestra, and he frequently performs new music, having worked with or premiered works by a number of noted composers, including James Lee III, Jeffery Scott of Imani Winds, and Grammy-award winning composer Jennifer Higdon.

An avid chamber musician, Berry has collaborated with members of many of the nation’s leading orchestras, including the New Jersey, Houston, St. Louis, Dallas, and Seattle symphonies. He has toured and regularly concertized as a resident member of the Jacksonville, Florida based Ritz Chamber Players, The Harlem Chamber Players, and the innovative chamber music theater group, the Core Ensemble.

As an arts administrator, Berry serves as chair of chamber music and a member of the artistic planning committee for the Gateways Music Festival at the Eastman School of Music, a biennial festival which celebrates the contributions of musicians of African descent to classical music, and features over 120 players from major American orchestras and university faculties across the United States.

In addition to his accomplishments as a classical musician, Dr. Berry is an avid improviser of jazz, gospel, and popular contemporary piano styles, and also enjoys composing his own concert arrangements of hymns and popular melodies. He received his bachelor of music with high distinction from the Eastman School of Music, and a master and a doctor of musical arts in piano performance from the Juilliard School. He is currently on the faculty of Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg.

The Nov. 11 program will open with Mozart’s delightful Sonata in F Major, K. 332, followed by the exciting second sonata of George Walker. Walker was an exceptional pianist and also the first African-American composer to win a Pulitzer Prize.  The program also includes Margaret Bonds’ Troubled Water. Berry explains that Bonds was “a true pioneer:  in 1933, she became the first African-American soloist to appear with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.” He points out that she was also a gifted composer. “She arranged a number of spirituals for voice and piano and was also a close friend and frequent collaborator of Langston Hughes, setting many of his poems as art songs.”

The second half of the program includes Robert Schumann’s monumental work, Carnaval. “Within the many short character piece movements that comprise the work, Schumann paints musical pictures that range in subject from portraits of friends and sides of his own personality, to scenes from the dance floor of a masked ball,” explains Berry. And he will close the program with one of his own works, the “Ode to Joy” Jazz Fantasy.  He says that for this piece, “I took the ‘Ode to Joy’ theme from Beethoven’s 9th symphony, and its themes of universal brotherhood, around the world through a number of different styles that I’ve come to love over the course of my life.”

Single tickets for November 11 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 https://go.marybaldwin.edu/arts/music/ or call 540-887-7294.