Piedmont Journal Fall 2021

Page 14

How Am I to Be Heard? will be performed April 7 and April 8 at 7:30 p.m. at the Swanson Center on Piedmont's Demorest campus.

PREMIERE Piedmont to Debut Original Musical About the Life of Lillian E. Smith By Rachel Pleasant To mark its 125th anniversary, Piedmont University will premier an original musical work titled How Am I to Be Heard? about the life and pioneering work of Lillian E. Smith.

creative team, including Composer Mary Carol Warwick, Librettist Kate Emery Pogue, Stage Designer and Director Rebecca Herman, and Narrator Anthony Turner.

Smith was a social justice activist and writer who penned the best-selling novel Strange Fruit, about an interracial relationship that takes place in Georgia in the 1920s. Smith studied at Piedmont University, which is home to the Lillian E. Smith Center, an educational facility and artists’ retreat in Clayton, Georgia.

Piedmont Music Professor Andrea Price will be the soloist. She will be joined on stage by the Piedmont Singers and chamber orchestra. Dr. C. Wallace Hinson, director of Piedmont’s Conservatory of Music and associate dean of the School of Fine Arts, is lending his talents as conductor of the performance.

How Am I to Be Heard? is the brainchild of Piedmont University President Dr. James F. Mellichamp, an accomplished music scholar and organist. “When I was thinking about the 125th anniversary of Piedmont University, it seemed to me that a special commissioned work would be an appropriate way of recognizing the significance of the event,” Mellichamp said. “Social justice issues are as important today as they were when Lillian E. Smith was writing about them almost 80 years ago. Piedmont’s core values speak about the need for embracing a diverse society, for the development of empathy, and responsibility toward ourselves and others.” To bring How Am I to Be Heard? to life, Piedmont has recruited an all-star 14


“The combination of these talents results in a ‘dream team’ of individuals who are collaborating on our project,” Mellichamp said. How Am I to Be Heard? is being written as an oratorio, a style of performance similar to opera, but without costumes and elaborate staging. Instead, projection and interpretive dance will provide the visual elements of the show. “In other words, it will be a multimedia performance that will be very captivating,” Mellichamp said. “The music is completely relatable, deeply rooted in Southern American folk and religious traditions. The text is very powerful. I cannot help but think this will be one of the most moving performances to ever take place on this campus in the four decades I have been here.”

The performance will be free to attend. For information on how to reserve tickets, visit piedmont.edu/fa as the event approaches.

THE TALENT BEHIND “How Am I to Be Heard?”


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