Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Washington Informer: 'Pianist Jade Simmons Addresses Social Issues'

Wednesday, 18 February 2009 13:15
“Success, for pianist Jade Simmons, once meant being on the biggest concert tours and performing on the largest stages. But for the Houston native, her goal has changed because of work with issues around teenage suicide.” “A former Miss Illinois who admits to being an overachiever as a child, Simmons will perform in a free program on Feb. 22 at the National Academy of Science in Northwest in D.C. The 3 p.m. Program will be in the auditorium, and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.” “But for the musician who regularly lectures on teen suicide, Simmons said the topic of teen suicide prevention is one that is worthy of receiving attention. 'It is the third cause of death among young teens,' said Simmons who adopted the issue as her platform when serving as Miss Illinois.”

“Neither of Simmons' parents were professional musicians, but she played the clarinet and viola in school, with an affinity for percussion music. According to the pianist, that love carried over into college where she was a drum major in the band and where she formed a popular percussion and dance ensemble, Boomshaka. Guided by Kimura, she found a niche as an artist by combining her love for percussion and piano. The result is a style that calls for a repertoire of music by composers who moved rhythm to the forefront, as opposed to melody, said Simmons. 'For example, I am playing two pieces by an African Cuban composer named Tania Leon,' Simmons said. '”Rituak” and “Tumbao” are both very rhythmic works.' Alsp on the program are Samuel Barber's 'Sonata for Piano,' and Gershwin's 'Three Preludes'”  [Tania Leon (b. 1943) is profiled at]

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