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The 2011 Athena Festival: Embracing Diversity - Expanding Horizons By Sabrina Peña Young The biennial Athena Festival

has provided a unique venue for music and performances by women for over a decade. Athena Festival Director Eleanor Brown hosted an exciting week of new music, enthralling guest artists, and insightful lectures this year at Murray State University. Paired with the Quad State festival with guest conductor Susan Brumfield, the 2011 Athena Festival included many exciting highlights including the historical Athena 60x60 Mix collaboration with Vox Novus and the premier of Karen P. Thomas's refreshing "Song of Songs". The 2011 Athena Festival Featured Composer Alex Shapiro shared both her music and philosophy in several talks and recitals. Several of her works were presented throughout the Athena Festival, from short electronic works like "Just a Minute of Your Time" to her moving Trio for Clarinet, Violin, and Piano. Pianist Robert Arneson presented Shapiro's work Piano Suite No. 1: The Resonance of Childhood, a composition which Shapiro holds dear to her heart. Piano Suite No. 1, her first classical work after years working in television and film, serves as a musical reflection of Shapiro's inner pain when her father succumbed to dementia. Shapiro presented master classes for both Murray State student composers and performers and gave a eye-opening chat about success in the music industry as a classical composer. The 2011 Athena Festival was rich with visiting composers, from the 2011 Athena Festival Chamber Music Award Winner Israeli-born Ayala Ahserov Kalus to Seattle Pro Musica's distinguished Artistic Director/Conductor Karen P. Thomas, winner of the 2011 Athena Festival Almquist Choral Composition Award. Kalus's Season: Trio for Flute, Cello, and Piano, inspired by the words of Israeli poet Chaim Nachman Bialik, treated the audience to a delightful poetic and lyrical journey. The premier of Thomas's Song of Songs by the Murray State University Concert Choir directed by Brad Almquist proved to be a truly masterful vocal performance that conveyed both the text through soaring beauteous sonority. As part of the Athena Festival's afternoon of electronic music, composers Sabrina Peña Young and Robert Voisey, Founder of Vox Novus and Vice President of The Living Music Foundation, curated the 60x60 Athena Mix, which featured sixty short electronic works by sixty talented women. With over 200 submissions from Asia, Europe, Oceania, and the Americas, the 60x60 Athena Mix represented a unique cross section of contemporary electronic music. Pauline Oliveros, Alice Shields, Joan La Barbara, Annea Lockwood, Brenda Hutchinson, Daria Semegen, Laurie Spiegel, Maggi Payne, and Eve Beglarian were among the incredibly talented composers who contributed work for the groundbreaking project that included too many notable composers to list. Young compiled the works into a single one hour concert, with each short song melding into

the next one, creating a riveting electronic suite of new music. After the world premier at the Athena Festival, the 60x60 Athena Mix has performances scheduled in New York City and abroad with Vox Novus. Guest lecturers gave a series of insightful talks on a variety of music topics, including discussions on composer Chen Yi, Fanny Mendelssohn, Clara Schumann, Isabella Leonarda, and Ruth Zechlin. On Wednesday, composer Mei-Fang Lin from Texas Tech University gave a thought-provoking discussion on "Asian Women Composers and Their Works for Piano and Electronics," combining both innovative performances of electroacoustic works using live processing and a historical introduction to musical training in Asia. Other session highlights included Eleanor Lynette McClellan's presentation "Saving Our Own Lives" and Thursday's "Informal Conversations" with Athena Festival composers. The 2011 Athena Festival truly lived up to its expectations of "Embracing DiversityExpanding Horizons" with an eclectic international mix of the familiar and the contemporary.