Mother Tongues: Louise Toppin, soprano, with Stephen Jaffe & John O’Brien, pianists

Premieres from the New Generation Project, written to the texts of African American poets by composers Stephen Jaffe, Maria Corley and Persis Vehar. A pre-concert discussion takes place from 3-3:40 p.m. about the New Generation Project with “Mother Tongues” poet and Duke University professor Tsitsi Jaji, Stephen Jaffe and Louise Toppin. Admission is free: contributions are accepted at the door and benefit Ancient Ways, which works to provide musical education for children in Zimbabwe.

Louise Toppin is a professor of music at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. A finalist in the Munich International Competition and winner of the Metropolitan Opera regional auditions, she has received critical acclaim for her operatic, orchestral, and oratorio performances in the United States and across the world. She has appeared in recital on concert series including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Merkin Hall, Licieu Theatre in Barcelona, Spain, and the International Albeniz Festival in Camprodon, Spain.

Tsitsi Jaji is Bacca Foundation Associate Professor of English and African and African American Studies at Duke University. Her most recent collection of poems, “Mother Tongues,” was awarded the Cave Canem Northwestern University Press Prize. She is the recipient of a New Directions Fellowship from the Mellon Foundation, the first Duke faculty member to receive the fellowship since 2012.

Stephen Jaffe is Mary D. B. T. and James H. Semans Distinguished Professor of Music Composition at Duke. In addition to collaborating with Jaji, recent collaborations have been with the National Symphony Orchestra, The North Carolina Symphony and the Kennedy Center Chamber Players, and have included orchestral works (Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, Poetry of the Piedmont, and Cut Time ) as well as chamber music. Jaffe is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Letters.

John O’Brien is professor of accompanying at East Carolina University. He has performed in New York’s Merkin Recital Hall, at the Istanbul Festival and toured Europe with mezzo-soprano Donna Dease in 1992. His frequent guest appearances include recitals and masterclasses at the Interlochen Arts Academy, Florida State University, Columbus College and the Southeastern Music Festival.

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Jun 03 2023


4:00 pm


Nelson Music Room, East Duke Building, Duke University
1304 Campus Dr., Durham, NC 27708
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