Four Women is a four-movement work performed by four female virtuoso cellists in honor of four women who made significant contributions to our world
Composer, drummer, activist, and educator Dr. Mark Lomax, II has created Four Women, a multidimensional new work featuring a score composed by Lomax and performances by members of UCelli: The Columbus Cello Quartet. Four Women is presented as an hour-long documentary, available to stream at https://marklomaxii.com/four-women-film beginning on February 1.
The project was commissioned by the Johnstone Fund for New Music for the benefit of, and to honor, Urban Strings Columbus, a nonprofit performing youth string orchestra founded by Catherine Willis in 2007 to recruit and support underserved minority youth in Central Ohio.
This dynamic musical experience offers a graphical portrait of each woman depicting her strength, leadership, faith, and selflessness. Each segment is narrated by Lomax and features original artwork and commentary by artist Richard Duarte Brown, who created paintings of each woman that help connect her identity with her story.
Four Women is a four-movement work performed by four female virtuoso cellists in honor of four women who made significant contributions to our world:
- Queen Nzinga (1583-1633) of the Mbundu people (present-day Angola) successfully led her people in a 30-year war against Portuguese colonization by showcasing her military prowess and high-stakes diplomacy.
- Ida B. Wells Barnett (1862-1931) overcame seemingly insurmountable odds to become a force for justice by leading the anti-lynching movement and the fight for women’s rights.
- Angela Davis (1944- ) came to prominence during the civil rights movement as a symbol of Black Power. She is a scholar, activist, author, and lecturer who has fought tirelessly for human rights around the world.
- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (1977- ) asserts that we spend too much time teaching children gender-specific behaviors and attitudes. The Nigerian-born author, lecturer, and self-proclaimed feminist advocates non-gender-specific humane, innate abilities that enable people to enrich their communities.
“These women represent a greater story of the contributions Black women have made to societies across the world throughout history,” said Lomax. “I chose four that exemplify womanism in a way that was unapologetic, and frankly, bad-ass. They made their mark on the world because they refused to be anything other than who they are. Their stories need to be told, and this composition celebrates examples of the power that derives from the most authentic expression of Humanity.”
Lomax, along with Zoe and Jack Johnstone from the Johnstone Fund for New Music, hope to make Four Women accessible to students of all ages and to anyone who wishes to experience this unique interpretation of history, music, and art.
Four Women was born from Lomax’s historic work, 400: Afrikan Epic, a 12-album cycle with more than eight hours of music exploring thousands of years of Black history, including pre-colonial Afrika, the Ma’afa (the 400 years between 1619 and 2019), and Afro-futurism (an expression of what Blacks in America will heal toward in the next 400 years). Its title and structure were inspired by Nina Simone’s composition Four Women (1966).
“The music tells a powerful story, but to connect with a broader audience, we needed to present a tangible representation to drive home the narrative,” Dr. Lomax added. “In spite of the years of being marginalized and abused, here are examples of four women from Afrika who not only prevailed but changed things. We selected four, but there are countless numbers of women just like them who fight every day and don’t get the same praise. The simple truth is, we would not be here without them and without the activism, engagement, love, nurturing, and the strength of Black women.”
About Dr. Mark Lomax, II (marklomaxii.com)
Critically acclaimed composer, recording artist, drummer, activist, and educator Dr. Mark Lomax, II, earned his Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctor of Music Arts degrees from The Ohio State University. He’s also received numerous accolades for his work as a composer and performer, including the coveted Wexner Center for the Arts Artist Residency Award in 2018. Using music and engaging conversation as a vehicle, Lomax inspires audiences to think critically about realizing the potential of our collective humanity to change the world.
About UCelli: The Columbus Cello Quartet (ucelli.net)
Featuring Pei-An Chao, Mary Davis, Cora Kuyvenhoven, and Wendy Morton, UCelli is a quartet of virtuoso cellists whose individual artistry and combined chemistry result in a unique, vibrant concert experience. The collaborations between these four cellists, who are also members of the Columbus Symphony and ProMusica Chamber Orchestra, allow for exciting explorations of new and unconventional intersections between music and life.
About The Johnstone Fund for New Music
The Johnstone Fund for New Music was founded by Columbus community leaders Jack and Zoe Johnstone in 2008. It supports the continuing growth and vitality of contemporary classical music by funding the creation and performance of new works for a growing audience in Central Ohio.