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Dimensions New Music Series celebrates 25 years

APSUs music department and Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Dimensions New Music Series with the world premiere performance of George Sand … and Chopin? (A Chamber Opera in One Act).
APSU's music department and Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Dimensions New Music Series with the world premiere performance of “George Sand … and Chopin? (A Chamber Opera in One Act).”

Written by Persis Anne Parshall Vehar for performance by APSU professors of music Dr. Sharon Mabry, mezzo-soprano, and Dr. Thomas King, tenor, the presentation is slated for 7:30 p.m., Monday, March 14, in the concert theatre of APSU's music/mass communication building. Accompanied by pianist Patsy Wade, Mabry and King will play the leading roles.

The opera was adapted from the one-person play, “George Sand: Heart, Mind & Body,” written and acted by librettist Gabrielle Vehar in 1986. Both the play and the opera are based on letters of the 18th century French novelist Aurore Dupin, who wrote under the pseudonym George Sand. In the opera, the diverse nature of relationships is explored through Sand's intimate association with composer Frederic Chopin.

An award-winning composer, Vehar has received six Meet the Composer Grants, 20 annual ASCAP Awards and the New York Foundation for the Arts Award. She is published by such companies as C.F. Peters and Boosey and Hawkes. Vehar, whose music has been heard worldwide, from Carnegie Hall in New York City to London's Royal Festival Hall, is working on several commissions from major orchestras and solo performers. Her music can be heard on CDs on the Aeolian, MMC, Fleur de Son Classics, Capstone and Mark labels.

The Dimensions New Music Series has a rich history at Austin Peay. Presented by APSU music faculty and invited guest artists, Dimensions began in Spring 1980 with one concert of contemporary music and expanded to three concerts by 1984.

According to Mabry, when the Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts was established in 1985, Dimensions became one of its primary creative activities with three campus concerts each season, student composer showcases and a regional touring program.

Since its inception 25 years ago, Dimensions has brought more than 50 guest composers to campus for performances of their works. “These composers have impacted the lives of hundreds of students with lectures on contemporary music, individual and classroom composition classes and casual talks about life as a musician,” says Mabry.

Dimensions has premiered more than 30 new works by guest composers and resident composer Dr. Jeffrey Wood, professor of music, including his opera, “Diaries.” In 1997, Dimensions produced a CD of works that have been presented in the series. The CD, which has been played on FM radio stations nationwide, is available through APSU's music department.

In addition to the March 14 performance of “George Sand … Chopin,” there will be a Prelude to the Opera, featuring a reading from the writings of George Sand by Dr. Karen Sorenson, associate professor of French, and a piano performance of Chopin's “Barcarolle in F sharp major, op 60” by Wood, A reception will follow the concert.

Mabry says, “As Dimensions celebrates 25 years of creativity, we wish to thank the patrons of the series for their loyal support, and we look forward to meeting new friends through the performance of music of today.”

Tickets are $10 per person, but APSU students will be admitted free with student ID. For tickets to the performance or more information, telephone (931) 221-7818.
—Terry Stringer