The University of the Virgin Islands will kick off its first Conference on Music and the Arts at 9:30 a.m. Monday at the UVI Administration and Conference Center on its St. Thomas Campus.
The three-day conference is the brainchild of Lorna Young-Wright, who was named UVI’s first Ann Elizabeth Richardson Distinguished Professor of Music last September.
“This will be an opportunity for us to speak to the critical role music and the arts play in our community and world,” said Young-Wright, a music professor at UVI for 29 years.
Young-Wright expects about 30 or more participants daily at the conference. She also encouraged Virgin Islands music educators and their students to come out and sample conference presentations.
“Many music educators here have ties with the university, and we’d like to offer them the opportunity to join in,” she said.
While full conference participation, including meals, requires paid registration, Young-Wright said students who attend with their music teachers, and UVI students, can attend individual sessions and recitals for free. Regular registration details are below.
The conference opens with a keynote presentations on Monday. Akin Euba, the Andrew W. Mellon professor emeritus of music at the University of Pittsburgh, will speaks at 10 a.m. Simon Jones-Hendrickson, dean of UVI’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, will speak at 1 p.m.
There will be 12 formal conference presentations by leading scholars from the U.S., United Kingdom, Nigeria, and the University of the Virgin Islands. Additionally, the conference will offer a mix of musical performances and recitals. The focus will be on introducing the music of African and African American composers.
“We’re particularly excited to be hosting a group from the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria,” Young-Wright said. “Nigerian Hip–Hop: External Elements in its Transformative Growth” is the title of their presentation. It is slated for 2:45 p.m. Wednesday.
Young-Wright said most of the conference’s recitals will include a lecture component, allowing for an introduction to the works by conductors who may not be widely known.
Young-Wright said she is especially looking forward to a recital featuring the works of Nigerian composers J. H. Kwabena Nketia, Ulysses Kay and William Grant Still. Young-Wright on piano will join John O. Robison on oboe and Kim McCormick on flute. Robison and McCormick are from the University of South Florida. The recital takes place at 3 p.m. on Monday.
In another recital, Janise White, from West Los Angeles College, will present keyboard works by Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges from the island of Guadeloupe. Born Joseph Bologne, the son of a wealthy planter and an African slave, Saint-Georges became a virtuoso violinist, eventually conducting the leading symphony orchestra in Paris in the 1800s. He is remembered as the first classical composer of African ancestry. The performance is set for 11:15 a.m. Tuesday.
Valerie Combie, who teaches English on St. Croix, is one of several UVI conference presenters. Her topic is “A Cultural Antecedent to Music Proliferation in the Caribbean,” at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. Vincent Cooper, who teaches English and linguistics on St. Thomas, will follow with a presentation titled, “Ties that Bind: Popular Music in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico,” at 10 a.m.
The cost of a full conference pass is $100. The pass includes attendance at any or all conference sessions, and breakfast and lunch each day. One-day passes are $50. Individuals can register from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the UVI Music Building, or at the beginning of each day’s session.
More information is available by contact Mary Alexander in UVI’s Division of Social Sciences, at firstname.lastname@example.org.