Athena Festival

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2013 Final Athena Festival Schedule


The Athena Festival is a biennial event, sponsored by the Department of Music, devoted to the study and performance of music composed by women. The Athena Festival is a multi-faceted event reaching public school music students, MSU students and faculty, regional audiences and scholars/performers front across the country. The Athena Festival VIII will be held February 26-March 1, 2013 and include three days of lecture/recital sessions, and concerts featuring MSU Concert Choir, MSU Jazz Orchestra and Department of Music Faculty Chamber Music ensembles. The theme of the 2013 Athena Festival is "Breaking Barriers - Finding Her Own Voice."

2013 Athena Festival Featured Composer

Gwyneth Walker

Dr. Gwyneth Walker (b. 1947) is a graduate of Brown University and the Hartt School of Music. She holds B.A., M.M. and D.M.A. Degrees in Music Composition. A former faculty member of the Oberlin College Conservatory, she resigned from academic employment in 1982 in order to pursue a career as a full-time composer. For nearly 30 years, she lived on a dairy farm in Braintree, Vermont. She has now returned to her childhood hometown of New Canaan, Connecticut.

Gwyneth Walker has been a proud resident of Vermont. She is the recipient of the Year 2000 "Lifetime Achievement Award" from the Vermont Arts Council as well as the 2008 "Athenaeum Award for Achievement in the Arts and Humanities" from the St. Johnsbury (VT) Athenaeum.

Walker's catalog includes over 200 commissioned works for orchestra, chamber ensembles, chorus, and solo voice. The music of Gwyneth Walker is published by E.C. Schirmer(choral/vocal music) and Lauren Keiser Music Publishing (orchestral/instrumental music).

In recent years, Gwyneth Walker traveled across the United States working with a variety of musicians as they recorded her works. As a result of these collaborations, several new CDs have been released: A Vision of Hills (piano trios and string works, performed by Trio Tulsa), An Hour to Dance (music for SATB chorus recorded by the choirs at Whitman College), Now Let Us Sing! (with Bella Voce Women’s Chorus, Burlington, Vermont), The Sun Is Love (solo voice and piano works performed by Chicago artists Michelle Areyzaga and Jamie Shaak), and Scattering Dark and Bright (song cycles recorded by the Walker-Eklof Duo).

In addition to the composing of new works, there has also been a special project of creating orchestral accompaniments for many of the choral and vocal works in the Walker catalog. Thus, the Songs for Women’s VoicesThree Days By the SeaI Thank You God, and the song cycle, No Ordinary Woman!, have all been orchestrated. Another new work, A Testament to Peace, combines three peace-oriented choral works (Tell the Earth to ShakeThe Tree of Peace, and There is a Way to Glory) into a set with chamber orchestra. Coming soon will be The Promised Land – songs for Soprano and Orchestra based on familiar American songs.

Another special project has been the creation of works for orchestra with narrator. Muse of Amherst (based on the poetry of Emily Dickinson) has been performed by several New England orchestras. And, By Walden Pond (with readings of H. D. Thoreau) was premiered in 2009 by the Carson City (NV) Symphony.

Recent works include two new SATB choral/orchestral sets: The Morning Train (songs about trains) and Alpha and Omega (Christmas songs), as well as Blessings from the Children (for youth chorus and orchestra) and The Circus of Creation - a staged presentation with music based on the poetry of Robert Lax. Circus was premiered at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, FL, with the Sarasota Brass Quintet and Narrator/Ringmaster Cliff Roles.

2013 Athena Festival Meet The Composer



Dr. Earlene Rentz received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the University of Montevallo (Alabama) and both Master and Doctoral degrees in Music Education from Florida State University.  She is a native of Moultrie, Georgia, and taught choral music for seven years in Habersham County (GA) at elementary, junior high, and high school levels.  She has also taught choral music education courses in higher education.

She has conducted All-State Choirs in Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, and Alabama, and has received ASCAP awards from 1998-2011. She has published over 400 choral compositions with 17 publishers since 1994, and recently formed her own publication company, Earlene Rentz Online Publications.  Her company’s goals are to provide quality choral music for choral directors at affordable prices, and supply teachers with supplementary time-saving materials for the choral classroom.

Dr. Rentz published her first book with Carl Fischer Music in March, 2009, entitled From Concepts to Concerts:  Building Competence in the Choral Classroom.  This book is designed with sequential exercises to lead students toward choral competence and improved musicianship in the classroom.

She lives near Lexington, Kentucky, where she enjoys her current profession as a full-time choral music publisher, composer, and arranger.

2013 Almquist Choral Composition Award


Anna De Foe is a pianist and composer/arranger of choral, vocal, and instrumental works.  She earned a BA in piano performance and MA in music performance (composition emphasis) from California State University, Fresno.  She studied composition with Budd Udell, Jack Fortner, and Robert Strizich, and piano with Ena Bronstein, Patricia Dinkins, and Karen Waters.  De Foe has received commissions for choral works from choirs in Florida, California, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Idaho.  Her music is published by E. C. Schirmer, (A God and Yet a Man?; Lyke-Wake Dirge), National Music Publishers, Fred Bock Music, and St. James Music Press.  De Foe currently resides in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, where she maintains a private music studio and serves as Director of Music for St. John United Methodist Church.  

2013 Athena Chamber Composition Award

Vera Ivanova graduated from the Moscow Conservatory (Honours Diploma),Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London (MM with distinction), and theEastman School of Music (Ph.D. in Composition). Her works have been performed in Russia, Europe and the U.S.A.

Vera Ivanova's compositions have been described as "...humanistic and deeply felt works... " (John Bilotta, Society of Composers, Inc.). In her early Fantasy-Toccata(2003) for violin and piano, "the humor takes on a harder, sardonic edge recalling the composer's roots in the work of Shostakovich and Schnittke" (Ted Ayala, Crescenta Valley Weekly). In her later Three Studies in Uneven Meters for piano (2011), "the greatest power of her brief, angular, crystalline music lies in its power to provoke the gods of symmetry"(Laurence Vittes, Lark Gallery Online Blog).

After teaching as Assistant Professor of Theory and Composition at the Setnor School of Music ofSyracuse University (NY), she was appointed as Assistant Professor of Music in the College of Performing Arts at Chapman University (Orange, CA).

Dr. Ivanova is a recipient of the Sproull Fellowship at Eastman, the Gwyn Ellis Bequest Scholarship at Guildhall SchoolMoscow Culture Committee and American Composers Forum Subito grants,Honourable mention at the 28th Bourges Electro-Acoustic Competition3rd Prize at the 8th International Mozart Competition, 1st Prize in Category "A" at International Contest of Acousmatic Compositions Métamorphoses 2004 (Belgium), the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Award, theAndré Chevillion-Yvonne Bonnaud Composition Prize at the 8th International Piano Competition at Orléans (France), Special Award from Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music, and she is a winner of the2013 Athena Festival Chamber Competition.

Her music is available in print from Universal Edition and Theodore Front Music Literature, Inc.SCI Journal of Music Scores (vol. 45), on CD's from Ablaze Records (Millennial Masters series, Vol. 2),Quartz Music, Ltd., PARMA Recordings (SCI CD series, No. 27), Musiques & Recherches(Métamorphoses 2004), Centaur Records (CRC 3056), and on her website at:

Dr. Ivanova can be reached via email at: vera.ivanova [at]

 Athena Festival History
  Featured Scholars and Composers
    1999 Dr. Karin Pendle, editor Women and Music: A History

      Barbara Harbach-George, organist, harpsichordist and founder of Vivace Press
    2001 Adrienne Fried Block, author of Amy Beach, Passionate Victorian: The Life and Times of an American Composer

      Barbara Honn, soprano and professor of voice, The University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music
    2003 Dr. Judith Tick, author of Ruth Crawford Seeger: A Composer's Search for American Music

      Peggy Seeger, daughter of Ruth Crawford Seeger and a folk singer/songwriter

      Sara Carina Graf, composer of premiered song cycle "Prayers from the Long History of Happiness"
    2005 Dr. Nancy B. Reich, author of Clara Schumann: The Artist and the Woman

      Lori Laitman, award-winning composer of art songs
    2007 Helen Walker-Hill, author of "From Spirituals to Symphonies: African-American Women Composers and their Music"

    2009 Judith Lang Zaimont, composer and editor of the three volume book series The Musical Woman: An International Perspective.

  Featured "Meet the Composer" Program composers
    1999 Eugenie Rocherolle, (piano and choral works)
    2003 Linda Spevecek
    2005 Mary Lynn Lightfoot
    2007 Patsy Ford Simms

      Mary Watkins
    2009 Elaine Schram
  Award-Winning Composers
    2001 Tina Davidson (PA) - Antiphon for a Virgin

      Kristi McGarity (TX) - Three E.E. Cummings Poems

      Dina Smorgonskaya (Israel) - Three Songs of Poems by Frederico Garcia Lorca
    2003 Stacy Garrop (IL) - Sonnets of Vanity, Loss and Rapture

      Nancy Wertsch (NY) - Shakespeare Suite
    2005 Dorothy Hindman (AL) - Psalm 121

      Elyzabeth Meade (NY) - Mulberry Birds

      Deborah Kavasch (CA) - Trio for B-flat Clarinet, Violin and Piano
    2007 Carol Barnett (MN) - Veni Sancte Spiritus

      Bonnie Miksch (OR) - There Is No Rose

      Hsiao-Lan Wang (TX) - Trio in Two Movements for Viola, Vibraphone and Piano
    2009 Elizabeth Alexander - Blessed Be The Flower That Triumphs At Last and The Journey

      Hye Kyung Lee - Gust of Embers