Ayers commissioned to compose work for "Portraits of Women"


For a composer, there is no higher praise than to receive a request for a commissioned work.

Jesse Ayers, professor of music, who is no stranger to commissions, has been selected to participate in the upcoming New Works Symposium: Portraits of Women in Contemporary Soprano Duet, hosted by Soprani Campagni.

Ayers is one of 13 composers selected nationally to premiere new art songs and opera scenes for the two-day symposium, to be held November 13 and 14 at Indiana Wesleyan University.

The goal of this innovative project is to introduce attendees to new soprano duets which emphasize the varied and valuable contributions that women make to our society. Sessions at the symposium will highlight various topics that are meaningful for composers, pianists, singers and students, as well as provide multiple opportunities to enjoy the beauty of musical collaboration in performance.

“My piece for New Works Symposium is based on the true story of two women, both passionate abolitionists, who spied for the Union in the Confederate capital of Richmond during the American Civil War,” said Ayers of Beneath Suspicion: a Scene from the Lives of Mary Bowser and Elizabeth Van Lew. “It has overtones of racial harmony, human rights, and freedom, and I hope to tell their story in a way only music can tell it.”

The piece will be performed by Lisa Dawson and Tammie Huntington, both sopranos, and pianist Phoenix Park-Kim, who founded Soprani Campagni. Their mission is to encourage modern composers to choose themes that deal with issues and themes related to the experience of women in America.