Assistant Professor of Music Mark Olivieri awaits the premiere of his new work, “Libba” for flute and piano, as part of the American Icons Concert at the Cazenovia Counterpoint Festival. Olivieri is one of three composers commissioned by the acclaimed Society for New Music to write a piece inspired by the songs of African-American blues and folk singer Elizabeth “Libba” Cotton.
The piano part in “Libba” emulates Cotten’s distinctive guitar picking technique that was produced by holding her right-handed guitar upside down so that the bass line was played with her fingers and the melody with her thumbs-a style that has come to be referred to as “Cotten picking.” “Libba” draws directly from Cotten’s Appalachian background utilizing many blues and Appalachian musical characteristics such as pitch bends in the flute part which intends to imitate the subtle vocal inflections, and the “camouflaging” of a strict metrical pulse with heavy ornamentation in both the flute and piano parts.
“Libba” will be premiered by flutist Kelly Jepson Covert and pianist Sar Strong of the Society for New Music.
Olivieri joined the HWS faculty in 2010. He holds a Ph.D. from the University at Buffalo,a M.M. from Ithaca College Music Conservatory and a B.M. from Heidelberg College.
“Libba” premieres Friday, July 20, at 7:30 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 27 Albany St., Cazenovia. Tickets are $10 adults, and free for 18 and under. They are available at the door or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve.