Joan Griffing (right), chair of the music department at Eastern Mennonite University, and members of Musica Harmonia will perform Saturday, Sept. 30 at 7:30 p.m. in Martin Chapel at EMU in a free concert. Donations are invited to support EMU’s music scholarship fund. They also perform Sunday, Oct. 1, at 2 p.m. at James Madison University’s Forbes Center. (Courtesy photo)

Musica Harmonia to perform at EMU and in the Forbes Center Masterpiece Season

Musica Harmonia, a chamber group including Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) music professor Joan Griffing, is slated to perform at EMU and as part of the Forbes Center for the Performing Arts 2017-2018 Masterpiece Season at James Madison University this fall.

The EMU concert is Saturday, Sept. 30, at 7:30 p.m. in Martin Chapel and is free and open to the public. Donations are invited to support EMU’s music scholarship fund.

Joan Griffing performs at the final evening concert of the 25th season of the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival last summer.

The chamber group also performs Sunday, Oct. 1, at 2 p.m. at JMU’s Forbes Center. Ticket information is available here.

At the concerts, Musica Harmonia will perform “Midnight Child,” a spiritual for string trio by Charles Washington; a piano quartet in D minor, op 8 for piano, violin, viola and cello by Noskowski; and the three-section “When the Spirit Sings” by Quaker composer Gwyneth Walker, who composed the string trio piece specifically for Musica Harmonia and will be in attendance.

Pianist Naoko Takao will join the trio for the Noskowski quartet in the performances.

Griffing is a founding member of Musica Harmonia, which formed in 2007 to promote peace and cultural understanding through musical collaboration. Its other founding members are cellist Beth Vanderborgh and violist Diane Phoenix-Neal.

The group, which has performed in Brazil, Australia, Puerto Rico and across the United States, has a bigger mission than simply performing music, said Griffing.

“Music is an international language. It brings people from diverse cultures together. That’s what we’re interested in, using music as an instrument for peacebuilding,” she said.

In January, the group released its first album When the Spirit Sings. Among other works, it features “The Peacemakers,” with music composed by Walker for poems by EMU professor Marti Eads that she based on the book Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War by EMU graduate and Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee.

In addition to performance, Griffing’s interest in music as an instrument for peacebuilding has called her to international studies. In fall 2012, she spent five months in New Zealand, collaborating with artists at the University of Otago in Dunedin and studying the role of music in peace and conflict issues.

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