The West Virginia Division of Culture and History will present An Afternoon of Song, Stories and Poetry on Sunday, March 29, at 4 p.m., in the Norman L. Fagan West Virginia State Theater in the Cultural Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. The program, one of the Division’s Women’s History Month events, features womanSong, Mountain Laurel Ensemble, Colleen Anderson and Karen Vuranch. The afternoon’s performance is free and the public is invited to attend.
The group womanSong, under the direction of Emily Capece, is an auditioned community-based chorus for sopranos and altos. Members perform an eclectic repertoire, reviving and reliving choral history through historical music, and showcasing often unknown works by female composers. The individual members of womanSong bring varied talents to the group. They are teachers, lawyers, nurses and retirees, full-time community volunteers, busy mothers and lifelong or professional musicians, who have come together to share their common love of singing, joy in each other’s company and dedication to performing a unique repertoire for their community. The group gives two concerts a year at Christ Church United Methodist Church in Charleston as well as performing in a variety of other venues.
Mountain Laurel Ensemble, in its first year, has performed at the Governor’s Mansion for a Valentine luncheon given in honor of the legislative spouses, the prestigious Greenbrier Resort’s Christmas Season, Tamarack at Two Series and Charleston’s Good Night New Year’s Eve Celebration. The ensemble offers free public concerts in fall, winter and spring and is available for private parties and special occasions. The group performs a mix of jazz, Broadway tunes, pop, classical, Renaissance, Celtic and country.
Anderson is a freelance writer, performer, graphic designer and owner of Mother Wit Writing and Design, a creative studio in Charleston. She has written reviews, travel articles, and feature articles for Mid-Atlantic County, West Virginia Quarterly, Goldenseal, and The Charleston Gazette. Her short stories have appeared in Redbook, Kestrel, Antietam Review, The Available Press/PEN Short Story Collection, and others. Her short essays for West Virginia Public Radio have won awards in two national competitions and she has produced two collections of original songs, Fabulous Realities and Going Over Home. For the past 20 years, Anderson has conducted hundreds of creative writing workshops for students and adults in West Virginia and other states. Among other workshops scheduled for this year, she will conduct songwriting and short essay sessions at Ghost Ranch, an arts center in New Mexico, an Elderhostel workshop at Cedar Lakes Conference Center and a Women’s Writing Weekend at Tygart Lake State Park.
Vuranch is a storyteller, actress, historian and writer. Using solid historical research, she creates characters that bring history to life. She has toured the United States, Wales and Great Britain with her one-woman play, Coal Camp Memories. Based on oral history, it chronicles a woman’s experience in the Appalachian coal fields. Homefront is a play based on oral history she collected about women in World War II. Vuranch also recreates historical figures: author Pearl Buck; labor organizer Mother Jones; humanitarian Clara Barton; Indian captive Mary Draper Ingles; 16th-century Irish pirate Grace O’Malley; and Wild West outlaw Belle Starr. She is also a traditional storyteller and has been performing in schools, libraries and communities for more than 20 years. Vuranch has presented many workshops on both the techniques of storytelling and how to collect oral history, and participated in the Nu Wa Storytelling Exchange to China in 2002, when 34 American storytellers visited the storytelling village of Gengcun.
For more information about the Women’s History Month performance, An Afternoon of Song, Stories and Poetry, contact Jacqueline Proctor, deputy commissioner for the Division, at (304) 558-0220.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Its administrative offices are located at the Cultural Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For more information about the Division’s programs, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
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