Gannon University’s Erie Chamber Orchestra Welcomes Guest Pianist Martha Summa-Chadwick

Dream RecitalPosted: April 13, 2015

The notion of the tortured genius who suffers for his or her art is an enduring legacy of the Romantic era. It makes for a great narrative. Still, the link between mental illness and great art can be established, however provisionally.

That link is the subject of two concerts next week by Gannon University's Erie Chamber Orchestra with pianist Martha Summa-Chadwick.

Summa maintains an active career as a soloist and chamber player, roles she will fill in the final offering of the inaugural series of Joe Luckey recitals on Monday, April 13, and on Friday, April 17 in a concert with the full orchestra and the Slippery Rock University Concert Choir, Stephen Barr, director, under the direction of Music Director Matthew Kraemer.

The connection between music and the mind has been a recurring theme of her life and varied and wide-ranging career. Summa was recruited by IBM as a student at Connecticut's Hartt School of Music. "[The company] found that musicians had the second-best aptitude to run computers after children's book authors," she said. Following graduation, Summa went to work in data processing for Aetna, Westinghouse and the Tennessee Valley Authority. "I thought I'd do this for a couple of years, make money, then go back to music."

She did, but found that extra-musical-or perhaps meta-musical-interests tugged at her.
Summa is also the founder and executive director of the nonprofit organization Music Therapy Gateway In Communications, Inc., in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which advocates for music as a treatment modality for persons with disabilities.

Erie Chamber Orchestra Executive Director Steve Weiser, himself a musician, had forged a relationship with Erie's Barber National Institute that included outreach events involving orchestra members. It was a perfect vehicle for Summa's interests, and on Tuesday, April 14 and Thursday, April 16, she will conduct individual student sessions at the Institute. On Wednesday, April 15 at 3 p.m., she will deliver a lecture, "Biomedical Music Techniques and the Brain," in Gannon University's Yehl Ballroom.

On Monday, she will play works by Claude Bolling and Robert Schumann, the latter a composer widely believed to have had bipolar disorder. On Friday, the program will include another work by Schumann, The Symphony No. 4 in D minor, Op. 80, as well as Beethoven's "Choral Fantasy," Op. 80 and Hugo Wolf's "Scherzo and Finale."

The Joe Luckey Recital, "Prelude to the Dream," will be presented on Monday, April 13 at 7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Erie, 7180 Perry Highway. The concert with the Erie Chamber Orchestra, entitled "The Burden of Genius," will be presented on Friday, April 17 at 7:30 p.m. at Church of the Covenant, 250 W. 7th St.

Both events are free. For more information on the Joe Luckey Recital Series of the Erie Chamber Orchestra, click here.