Mary Lou Williams: Composer, Pianist, Pioneer

Date: Tuesday, August 18, 2020 Time: 5:30 pm-7:00 pm Location: via Zoom  Fee: $10 in advance



Erik Nielsen


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The name Mary Lou Williams is not as well known in the list of important Black American composers as Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker or William Grant Still, but she deserves to rank with all of them. Not only was she a great arranger, composer and pianist, highly respected among her peers, in a jazz world dominated by men, but she created choral and large ensemble works that bridged jazz and concert music. As if that weren’t enough, she mentored and encouraged young musicians such as Parker and Thelonious Monk to explore new paths, and continued such mentoring work right up to her death in 1981. And her influence continues today. Composer Erik Nielsen will discuss Williams, her life, work and some of the contemporary black women composers who are her heirs.

This presentation is part of GMALL’s Women ‘20-’20 series commemorating the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote and celebrating the accomplishments of women in all areas of society.

Registration is $10 per person.

Erik Nielsen’s compositional catalog includes works of chorus, orchestra, wind ensemble, solo instruments, chamber music of many configurations, and works for dance, film and electronic music. His works have been performed all over the world by ensembles including the National Symphony Orchestra; the Killington and Manchester Chamber Players; Bread and Puppet Theater; the Vermont Contemporary Music Ensemble; Vermont Opera Theater, Vermont Symphony; and others.