Saturday, April 24, 2021 A Year In: Artina McCain, pianist: A busy schedule paused by the pandemic gave time for a long awaited album release

Heritage: An American Musical Legacy
Artina McCain, piano  
Kairoi Music

By Jeanne Claire van Ryzin

April 23, 2021 

Artina McCain manages a multi-fold career as a piano soloist and university educator.And she is a scholar and concert curator of music by Black and other underrepresented composers.

McCain curates Black composers concerts for multiple arts organizations, including the Austin Chamber Music Center, the 2018 iteration of which, “The Black Female Composer,” garnered McCain an Austin Critics Table Award.

As she told Sightlines writer Dana Wen in 2018, “There are so many composers of African descent all over the world, and their music isn’t programmed that often.”

“A Concert of African Diaspora Composers, from the 18th Century to contemporary Puerto Rico”

This year music publisher Hal Leonard will publish McCain’s transcriptions of African American folk sSongs, and her 2016 album “I, Too” (Naxos), is a collaboration with soprano Icy Simpson Monroe, a collection of African American spirituals and art songs.

I, too
Icy Simpson, soprano
Artina McCain, piano
Longhorn Music LHM2012001

Long active in Austin after receiving her doctorate at the University of Texas Butler School of Music, McCain is now based in Memphis where she is on the faculty at the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music at the University of Memphis. Her husband, trombonist Martin McCain, is on the faculty of Texas State University, and the two perform as the McCain Duo.

The strange quiet of the pandemic gave Artina a chance to release her album “Heritage: An American Musial Legacy,” which has already netted a Gold Global Music Award.

And on March 17 — a year after the world went into lockdown — McCain performed live with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, playing Florence Price’s Piano Concerto in One Movement (1932-34), a virtuosic piece.

Sightlines: What were you working on and looking forward to when the lockdown began in mid-March 2020? What was the first of your work you saw cancelled?

Artina McCain: Last year when the lockdown began I had a big trip planned to go to Colombia for a guest artist residency. It would have been my first time in South America and I was thrilled to go. Also in the same week I was scheduled to perform the epic Beethoven Archduke trio in Florida. Everything happened so quickly and I went from non-stop practicing to figuring out new things to do.

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