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“For the Love of Music,” a Valentine’s Day Celebration at Catawba College

January 19, 2016

Category: Alumni, Events, Music


valentinesmusic.jpgA February 14th musical concert in Catawba College's Omwake-Dearborn Chapel will feature concert pianist Dorothy Lewis-Griffith (Mrs. Adrian L. Shuford, Jr.) of Conover and a brass ensemble performing a world premiere of a commissioned work by a Catawba alumna. The concert, which is free and open to the public, begins at 4 p.m. followed by a reception in Peeler-Crystal Lounge of the Robertson College-Community Center.

The concert features original compositions by 1987 Catawba alumna and composer Pauliina Isomäki of Finland and celebrates her professional accomplishments. Her composition to be premiered was commissioned by the College and is entitled Källskärin Hermes (Hermes of Källskär).

In addition to Dorothy Lewis-Griffith, other musicians to perform during the Feb. 14th concert include The Catawba Singers, under the direction of Dr. Phillip Burgess; Christina Pier, soprano; Dr. Renee McCachren, piano; along with brass ensemble members Chris Fensom and Luke Boudreault, trumpet, Chris Ferguson, trombone, and Frank Merritt, horn.

dorothyshuford.jpg  Lewis-Griffith

Isomäki gained inspiration for her composition while on a family sailing trip around the Finnish archipelago on the Baltic Sea. On the remote island of Källskär in the Sea of Åland, she became fascinated by one particular sculpture, that of Hermes, that dominates the island from its highest rock. The statue of Hermes, also known as the Roman Mercury, is a copy of Giovanni da Bologna's 16th-century original. Hermes stands with one foot on a column of air pouring from the mouth of Zephyr, Greek god of warm spring winds, poised to fly away in Zephyr's breeze. He holds the caduceusa magic staff with two snakes wrapped around, symbol of alchemy, astrology and peace.

Isomäki composed her musical description in a 12-minute work for piano, two trumpets, trombone and French horn. The four movements are 1. Hermeksen näköala (The View of Hermes) 2. Hermes nukkuu talviunta (Hermes Hibernates) 3. Saaren henki (Spirit of the Island) 4. Hermes ja meri (Hermes and the Sea).

pauliinaisomaki.jpg  Isomäki

The first movement, The View of Hermes, describes the bare rocks and the open sea view in Summer. Hermes and his surroundings are sometimes wrapped in mist but always full of life. The second describes winter on the islands. Birds have flown south; the sea has frozen; daylight is scarce. Hermes must hibernate to survive the treacherous wind which literally destroys the island's harbor every winter and which must be restored again every spring. The third, Spirit of the Island, portrays the merciless nature of the archipelago, always ready to mock and destroy anything humans have tried to build there. In the fourth movement, Hermes and the Sea, the dramatic struggle ends and nothing remains but the sound of the waves.

Isomäki was born in Finland and studied music in the United States at both Catawba College and Valdosta State College in Georgia. At Catawba, she studied with Dorothy Lewis-Griffith under an Adrian L. Shuford, Jr., scholarship and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music. She studied musicology at Åbo Akademi University where she graduated with a master's degree in 1992. Her compositions include three operas, vocal compositions, and chamber and orchestral works. Her musical style combines a natural tonal harmony with modern expression.

She has a special interest in the voice and choral music, especially early music. She plays several historic woodwind instruments. At the moment, she is working on a large-scale oratorium for the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus Cathedralis Aboensis. Isomäki works as Arts and Music Department librarian at the Turku University of Applied Sciences. She lives on the southwestern coast of Finland with her family and enjoys choir singing and sailing in her free time.