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Songs of the Islands

Postponed: Pollonais to perform Songs of the Islands, celebrate Caribbean culture at Manchester

Maegan PollonaisNote: Because of restrictions imposed by COVID-19, this performance is postponed. It will be rescheduled if it becomes possible at a later date.

Complex and beautiful songs of the Caribbean are a rich reflection of its culture. Maegan Pollonais was to perform Songs of the Islands at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 26 at Manchester University.

The 12-song collection by Dominique Le Gendre resonates with Pollonais. She was born in the United States but grew up in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, a Caribbean nation.

“As an American musician, I learned about mostly European and American composers such as Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Rorem and Bernstein. I rarely ever got a chance to delve into music from other parts of the world. Being an Afro Caribbean woman, I thought that it was time to change that dynamic,” Pollonais said.

In 2016, the Classical Music Development Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago commissioned London-based Trinbagonian composer Le Gendre to compose art songs of the Caribbean.

“This is significant because, in the Caribbean, calypsos and folk songs are usually accompanied by guitar and band,” Pollonais said. “This is the first time we are seeing Caribbean songs with piano accompaniment where, in true art song aesthetic, the piano holds equal prominence as the vocal line.” 

Assistant director of student diversity and inclusion at Manchester, Pollonais will be hooded in May with a Doctor of Arts in vocal opera performance at Ball State University. A mezzo-soprano, she holds a Master of Music in vocal performance from Bowling Green State University and a Bachelor of Arts, Music and Sociology, cum laude, from State University of New York at Plattsburgh.

In July 2017, the 12-song collection made its world premiere at Queens Hall, Trinidad and Tobago.

“I attended this premiere and immediately fell in love with the music,” Pollonais said. She performed the international debut of the art song cycle in 2018 at Ball State. “I was so thrilled to be able to not only perform this incredible song cycle that Le Gendre wrote but also lecture on it and teach the audience about my culture. This song cycle is unique as it follows the form of Western music aesthetic but uses elements of polyculturalism from the Caribbean region – our music, rhythms, and poetry.”

Pamela Haynes, assistant professor of music at Manchester, was to assist Pollonais on piano. 

The March 26 performance and lecture was part of the Values, Ideas and the Arts series at Manchester, designed to help students broaden their horizons.

For the media

Maegan Pollonais: MDPollonais@manchester.edu

About Manchester
With campuses in North Manchester and Fort Wayne, Ind., Manchester University offers more than 70 areas of academic study to 1,400 students in undergraduate programs,a Master of Accountancy, a Master of Science in pharmacogenomics, a Master of Athletic Training a four-year professional Doctor of Pharmacy degree and a four-year dual degree in pharmacy and pharmacogenomics. Learn more about the private, northern Indiana school at www.manchester.edu

Our mission
Manchester University respects the infinite worth of every individual and graduates persons of ability and conviction who draw upon their education and faith to lead principled, productive, and compassionate lives that improve the human condition.

March 2020