Next Sunday Recital Honors Black History Month

January 28, 2019

The Department of Music at Mary Baldwin University is pleased to announce the opening Sunday Recital of 2019. On February 3violist Diane Phoenix-Neal and pianist Lori Piitz will perform a recital in honor of Black History Month. The recital is at 3 p.m. in Francis Auditorium.

They will open the program with Lament for viola and piano by Coleridge Taylor-Perkinson. “Coleridge Taylor-Perkinson was an eclectic African-American composer, named after the Afro-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor,” explains Phoenix-Neal. “He is well-known for his longstanding contributions to classical, jazz, dance, television and film music. For us, his Lament is very special, like an old fashioned, hummed song from my grandmother’s 1930s radio, a piece that speaks with a warm voice and with the heart.”

They will also play a recent work, Spectre, by the young composer Ben K. Cinead. And they will close the program with the beautiful Sonata for Viola and Piano of Rebecca Clarke. “The works of Rebecca Clarke are reminiscent of the music of Debussy and Vaughn Williams and use a variety fantastical tone colors and mesmerizing melodies,” says Phoenix-Neal. Her Sonata for Viola and Piano, composed 100 years ago in 1919, was a contender for a prestigious award, previously awarded only to men. She did not receive the top award, but the sonata has become a favorite of violists all over the world, revealing a legacy of evocative timbres, and lushness of sound.”

Diane Phoenix-Neal performs nationally and internationally as a chamber musician and as a soloist. Originally from North Carolina, she holds the positions of assistant professor of viola at James Madison University and Principal Violist and soloist with the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival. In France, she served as both the principal solo violist of l’Orchestre de Picardie and as violist of Quatuor Joachim for nearly a decade. Phoenix-Neal received her training from North Carolina’s School of the Arts and at the Juilliard School, where she served as principal violist of the Juilliard Symphony Orchestra. She earned her doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Canadian pianist Lori Piitz has performed and taught in both North America and Europe. Prior to moving to Virginia, she lived in Germany, where she participated in recitals for the Wagner Society and the New Music Association of Germany, as well as at the International Flute Congress in Frankfurt. Since joining the piano faculty of James Madison University in 2002, she has participated in the Contemporary Music Festival at JMU, the Bach Festival at EMU, the Richmond Chamber Music Festival, and the Staunton Music Festival.

Tickets for February 3 may be purchased at the door and are $5 for the general public and $4 for students and seniors (free for MBU students). For more information, please visit or call 540-887-7294.