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UVI Opens Three-Day Conference on Music and the Arts

Dr. Lorna Young-Wright to host music conference at UVI on St. Thomas

VI Music Educators and Students Encouraged to Attend

The University of the Virgin Islands kicks-off its first biennial Conference on Music and the Arts at the Administration and Conference Center on the St. Thomas Campus at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, March 17.  The three-day conference is the brainchild of Dr. Lorna Young-Wright, who was named UVI’s first Ann Elizabeth Richardson Distinguished Professor of Music last September.

Photo: Dr. Lorna Young-Wright, UVI's Ann Elizabeth richardson Distinguished Professor of Music, will host the University's first Conference on Music and Arts.

“This will be an opportunity for us to speak to the critical role music and the arts play in our community and world,” said Dr. Young-Wright, a music professor at UVI for 29 years.

Dr. Young-Wright expects some 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, Dr. Young-Wright said students who attend with their music teachers, and UVI students, can attend individual sessions and recitals for free. See regular registration details below.

The conference opens with keynote presentations on Monday. Dr. Akin Euba, the Andrew W. Mellon Professor Emeritus of Music at the University of Pittsburgh, speaks at 10 a.m. The Dean of UVI’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Dr. Simon Jones-Hendrickson speaks at 1 p.m.

Twelve formal conference presentations by leading scholars from the U.S., United Kingdom, Nigeria, and the University of the Virgin Islands will be featured. Additionally, an enticing mix of musical performances and recitals will be offered. 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,” Dr. Young-Wright said. “Nigerian Hip – Hop: External Elements in its Transformative Growth” is the title of their presentation. It is slated for March 19, at 2:45 p.m.

The conference theme is “The proliferation of music and the arts through the creative imagination of individuals and groups within the context of historical realities."

Dr. 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.

Dr. Young-Wright is anticipating with relish a special recital featuring the works of Nigerian composers J. H. Kwabena Nketia, Ulysses Kay and William Grant Still. Dr. Young-Wright on piano, will join Dr. John O. Robison on oboe and Dr. Kim McCormick on flute. Drs. Robison and McCormick are from the University of South Florida. The recital takes place at It at 3 p.m. on March 17.

In another recital, Dr. Janise White, from West Los Angeles College, will present keyboard works by Le Chavalier de Saint-Georges from the island of Guadeloupe. Saint-Georges, the son of a wealthy planter and an African slave, 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 March 18, at 11:15 a.m.

Among several UVI conference presenters is Dr. Valerie Combie, who teaches English on St. Croix. Her topic is “A Cultural Antecedent to Music Proliferation in the Caribbean,” on March 18, at 9:30 a.m. Dr. 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. on Sunday, March 16, at the UVI Music Building, or at the beginning of each day’s session. For more information, please contact Mary Alexander in UVI’s Division of Social Sciences via e-mail at