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Kassia Ensemble: “To Kassia, With Love”

Three Dedicated Commissions, Five Living Women Composers


Saturday, May 13, 3pm

Shadyside Presbyterian Church 

5121 Westminster Pl, Pittsburgh, PA 15232

Free Admission, Suggested Donation $25


The Kassia Ensemble presents a concert of music written by five vibrant and living women composers. The music explores a range of human emotions and experiences, from anxiety to zen, and mania to calm. There is a celebration of the heightened sensory pleasures of the summer as felt during the pandemic, and an homage to the Ensemble’s namesake Kassia.


The program includes not one, but three commissions dedicated to this group of dynamic musicians by celebrated composers Judith Shatin, Osnat Netzer, and Pittsburgh’s own Nancy Galbraith. The Ensemble commissioned Shatin in 2019 to compose a piece for the complete septet, a first in the repertoire. Using the Ensemble’s namesake as inspiration, Shatin creates a piece with a “gentle opening and meditation to sounds of spiritual struggle and from pensive yearnings to dreams of a world beyond.” Shatin describes her virtual sessions with the members of the Kassia Ensemble as an “inspiring connection in dark times.” The Ensemble will premiere commissions Datsuzoku by Osnat Netzer and Summer of 2020 by Nancy Galbraith. Datsuzoku is named for one of the seven aesthetic principles of zen, representing freedom from habit or formula. In Summer of 2020, Galbraith chooses to celebrate the fullness and beauty of the summer, rather than dwelling on the foreboding atmosphere at the height of the pandemic scare. It is a reminder to recognize and experience the gifts we are given that cannot be taken away, even in the darkest of times.


Also on the program are works by Brianna Ware and Missy Mazzoli, two composers the ensemble has come to love. Kassia Ensemble found Ware’s piece, Recollection and Anticipation, while programming a concert of all black women composers in 2021. The concert was only ever able to be recorded live for streaming, and the Ensemble wants to bring this beautiful piece to life again. The work showcases the clarinet, viola and harp in soaring melody in the first movement, then rhythmic excitement in the second. Mazzoli’s work is new to Kassia, but is a nod to her opera, Song from the Uproar, which Kassia co-presented in May of 2022. Mazzoli’s music is powerful and multi-layered, and Lies You Can Believe In is just that!


Kassia Ensemble is a chamber ensemble made up exclusively of women. Its mission is to promote entrepreneurship in the arts through quality performance and collaboration. The Ensemble's namesake, Kassia, was a Byzantine abbess, and the earliest female composer whose works have survived until the present day.

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