The Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies and the Living Music Resource have partnered to present “A Song of Songs,” a concert featuring compositions by Mississippi’s own Price Walden, tonight at 7 p.m.
In addition to Walden’s original compositions, several pieces that have inspired him will also be performed. This concert brings to a close the Isom Center’s annual SarahFest, a multi-week celebration of arts and culture in Oxford.
There will also be a master class, “Between the Bar Lines,” held at 1 p.m. today with Ole Miss choral students led by Ole Miss alumna Alice Anne Light. Light is a mezzo soprano who is currently a faculty member at William Jewel College. She will also be singing at the concert tonight.
Both of these events will take place in the Nutt Auditorium of the music building and are free and open to the public.
Choosing Walden for this unique event was a clear choice for associate professor and Living Music Resource director Nancy Maria Balach.
“I love collaborating with the Isom Center because we have so many similar goals in the sense of creating understanding and awareness and community,” Balach said.
Walden’s composition work for the concert titled “Abide With Me” was originally written in 2015 and is featured on UM faculty member Jos Milton’s album “Southerly: Art Songs of the American South.”
The five separate songs contained in the “Abide With Me” center on Walden’s childhood and adolescence growing up as a gay, Christian man in Booneville. The concert will begin with a piece by Benjamin Britten that provided much of Walden’s inspiration for his own piece. Artist-in-residence Bruce Livingston and several Ole Miss faculty, students and alumni will also perform at the concert this evening. The music itself features “a lot of variety” and a few lesser-known composers, according to Balach. “A Song of Songs” as a whole seeks to be a real reflection of modern society.
The Living Music Resource relies heavily on student involvement, and this event is no different, with students preparing, participating and producing it. Attendees are encouraged to come early at 7 p.m. for a unique opportunity to hear poetry spoken by Ole Miss students. The poems to be spoken are those whose lyrics inspired “Abide With Me” and will be sung along with Walden’s piano compositions. To fully immerse the audience in the entire experience, each poem will be projected on the screen as it is being performed. Balach said including the audience was a major aim of the event.
“You aren’t going to be told how to interpret the music. You aren’t going to be told how to interpret the text. You’re going to be invited in and have an experience,” Balach said. “The bottom line is good music is good music.”