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'Songs from the Edge' sets physician's breast cancer experience to music

October 19, 2007

Winston-Salem physician Annette Pashayan and prize-winning Israeli composer Ella Milch-Sheriff will discuss their 18-month collaboration setting Pashayan’s poems to music at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 6 in DeTamble Auditorium at Wake Forest University.  The result, “Songs from the Edge,” is a piece for string ensemble and mezzo-soprano.

In 1996 Pashayan wrote a set of five poems about her personal experience with breast cancer.  Each poem dealt with a specific aspect of her struggle with the disease: “After the Fall,” “Chemo and Gould,” “Transplantation,” “Acts” and "Restoration.”  In 2004 Pashayan shared her poems with Milch-Sheriff after learning that the composer had recently lost her sister to breast cancer.   Milch-Sheriff says after Pashayan e-mailed her the poems, “I read them and I knew I was going to compose a work for string quartet and mezzo-soprano.”

Pashayan says Milch-Sheriff captured the complex emotions in the music beautifully. “It’s a very personal story, it’s a very individual story and yet thousands of people every day are afflicted with life-threatening illnesses.  The purpose of telling one individual story is so you can gain insight into the kinds of things we deal with in this situation, and hopefully understanding that each cancer and each person who deals with cancer is separate and special, and it’s in that uniqueness that we find our humanity.”

The North Carolina premiere of “Songs from the Edge” will be performed Nov. 11 at 4 p.m. at Temple Emanuel in Winston-Salem.  The 20-minute piece will be performed by mezzo-soprano Janine Hawley and a string ensemble from the Carolina Chamber Symphony Players, which includes violinist Jacqui Carrasco, associate professor of music at Wake Forest University.

The programs are sponsored by Wake Forest University Women’s and Gender Studies program, the Department of Music and the Women’s Forum.  For more information contact the Women’s and Gender Studies office at 336-758-3758.

Press Contacts:

Audrey Fannin
(336) 758-5237

Kevin Cox
(336) 758-5237

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Wake Forest University • Winston-Salem, North Carolina • Information: 336.758.5000 | Feedback