Executive director of Ypsilanti's ÆPEX Contemporary Performance discusses the music of Julia Perry with mezzo-soprano Olivia Johnson


Garrett Schumann, executive director of the Ypsilanti-based ÆPEX Contemporary Performance, and mezzo-soprano Olivia Johnson (Detroit Opera House, Seattle Opera) talked about the life and music of African-American composer Julia Perry (1924-1979) on May 28, 2022, in a Zoom discussion sponsored by the Ann Arbor District Library. The event featured rare archival materials from Perry's career as well as the first public screening of ÆPEX's video recordings from June 2021 of two of Perry's compositions, in which Johnson participated as a vocal soloist: "Pastoral" (1959) and "Stabat Mater" (1951).

A Tanglewood fellow and graduate of the Juilliard School, Perry built an accomplished international career as a composer and conductor in the face of enormous obstacles. Despite receiving a commission from the New York Philharmonic and awards from both the American Academy of Arts & Letters and Guggenheim Foundation, Perry's music fell all but silent following her death.

This presentation explores the reasons behind Perry's muted posthumous legacy by diving into the constellation of documents that record her life and career, including archival audio of the composer describing her music at a Columbia University forum in 1954.

For more information, visit aepexcontemporary.org