Gwyneth Walker

Symphony Pays Tribute to Women Composers

by Michael Linder, The Times Record News

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Read notes for The Light of Three Mornings (1987) for orchestra
Read notes for Open the Door (1990) for orchestra
Read notes for I Thank You God (1998) for SSA chorus and piano

The Wichita Falls Symphony, under the direction of Candler Schaffer, presented their March concert Saturday evening as a tribute primarily to one of the unheard voices in concert music--women composers.

... However, the compositional evening belonged to Gwyneth Walker, who was in attendance at Saturday night’s performance. Walker left a full-time teaching position at Ohio’s Oberlin College to live on a dairy farm in Vermont and devote herself exclusively to composition. She is a multi-faceted composer whose works span orchestral, band, strings, piano, choral and song.

This reviewer was fortunate to be in Chicago last week for the American Choral Directors Convention when one of her commissioned choral pieces (I Thank You God -- site ed.) was performed by the National Women’s Honor Chorus. Saturday night, her opening piece was fittingly called Open the Door, an orchestral overture, symbolic of the spirit of “openness and fresh air generated when doors are opened to new opportunities.”

The second composition, The Light of Three Mornings -- Sketches of Braintree Hill, is a three-movement work for chamber orchestra inspired by the purity and beauty of mornings spent in Walker’s studio in Braintree, Vt. The first movement, based upon the familiar spiritual tune, “My Lord, What a Morning!” featured principal bassoonist Richard Rodean. The second movement, “First Light,” was lush, somewhat darker in sonority, therein reminding one of Richard Strauss’ tone poem. The third of the three contrasting movements, “Hints and Tappings” was more rhythmically complex and included “hissing and tapping” from the orchestra. This movement, the composer asserts, “delights in exploring unusual instrumental and vocal sounds.”

From The Times Record News, Wichita Falls, Texas, March 8, 1999