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Julia Mortyakova

COLUMBUS, Miss. – A new CD featuring pieces performed by Dr. Julia Mortyakova, chair of the Department of Music at Mississippi University for Women, celebrates some famous women composers who have influenced the pianist.

“The music of women composers is often left out of the performance canon, even though some of the composers were very famous musicians during their lifetimes,” Mortyakova explained. “I have been thinking about a CD celebrating women composers due to my commitment in performing their music, which has been the focus of my performance activities since 2009.”

Mortyakova performed a solo recital tour titled “A Celebration of Women in Music” this past spring at which led to the recording of the CD. She toured at Tennessee State University, South Carolina University, Women Composers Festival of Hartford (CT), University of Southern Mississippi, the Chaminade Music Club of Jackson and at The W.

“Since I was already performing the music it was easy enough to transfer it to a CD format, but I needed funding. The CD was made possible as a result of the opportunity to apply for and receive MUW Faculty Research Funds,” she said.

All of the music on the CD are all classical, solo piano works. The selections by Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre are from the Baroque time period, while Cecile Chaminade and Clara Schumann are Romantic in style. Olga Harris is a modern composer, but she is a neo-Romantic, Mortyakova said.

“Therefore it is a CD filled with beautiful melodies and lots of passion meant to showcase the contribution of women in music throughout history. While the CD is only a tiny sample of all of the beautiful music by women composers, it is my hope to ignite a passion for this music in the listeners, and to inspire other performers to add it to their performance repertoire,” she added.

Mortyakova’s specialty is Cecile Chaminade, whose music recently entered the public domain.

“I have been an advocate of the French composer Cecile Chaminade for the past seven years. She was a prolific composer and a concert pianist who was immensely popular during her lifetime.
“Unfortunately, music history has somehow managed to forget her contributions, and I am doing my part to bring her back unto the concert stage.”

Mortyakova received the Sigma Alpha Iota Career Performance Grant in 2012 and an award in The American Prize competition in 2014 for the performance of Chaminade’s music.
The Russian American composer, Olga Harris, who is a professor at Tennessee State University and the last composition student of Aram Khachaturian, is Mortyakova’s mother, she said, noting that it’s special to record her music as well.

“`Rhapsody for Julia’ as well as all of the other Harris pieces on the CD were composed specifically for me. “Mermaid Dreams,” “Don’t Let Me Go, My Sorrow” and “Prelude Assisi” were all composed in 2016.
Mortyakova also noted Clara Schumann, a child prodigy from Germany. “She is one of the first virtuoso solo pianists in the history of the instrument, a composer and teacher and an inspiration to me as a concert pianist.”

She added, “One of my piano students, Phebe Davis, inspired me to perform her music after I gave a lecture about Schumann’s work, `The Hidden Gems of Classical Music: Women Composers’ at the Gordy Honors Forum in 2014. Phebe suggested that I learn this piece after hearing my lecture.”

Lastly, Mortyakova mentioned Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, a child prodigy and a harpsichord virtuoso from France. “The suite I perform by her was originally written for the harpsichord. I believe Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre’s music transfers well into the piano, and perhaps more pianists will explore and perform her work,” she said.

Half of the CD was recorded in Poindexter Hall, Connie Sills Kossen Auditorium, in May with James Beville as the engineer. There also were four recordings engineered by Andy Coburn in Michigan a few years back. Coburn passed away and she wanted to honor him and his work by including it on the CD.

The rest of the pieces were live recordings from her recitals in Kossen over the past four years at The W, engineered by Dr. Richard Montalto, professor of music.

“I would not be able to release this CD without these funds and I am very grateful that my project was approved,” she said.

The CD is available on physically and digitally. CD Baby has sent it to all major online music distributers, including Apple iTunes, Rhapsody, Spotify, Amazon Mp3, Google Play, YouTube Music, SoundExchange, iHeartRadio and others.

Mortyakova spent most of her summer recording the CD and working on the design and distribution. The cover photo was taken by Jonathan Levin, who is a pianist, photographer and artistic director of the Clayton Piano Festival.

She also performed several selections from the CD at a special concert organized by the W music department for the Mississippi Governor’s School.

“Currently, I am preparing for my upcoming trip to Italy to perform a solo recital and appear as concerto soloist performing Olga Harris’ `Concerto No.2’ with the Assisi Performing Arts Orchestra in Assisi this July,” she said.

Mortyakova has done her part in sharing the music of women with audiences around the world, performing music featured on the CD. Her travels have taken her to Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New York City, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington, D.C., as well as in Bulgaria, Italy, Spain and Ukraine.

July 1, 2016
Contact: Anika Mitchell Perkins
(662) 329-7124
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