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“The history of Connie Converse and who she was … I keep discovering new things. The first time I listened to Cassandra Cycle, there were playful parts [that stood out to me]. When I learned more of what was going on in her life at the time, it gave a whole new meaning.”

Carrina Macaluso, senior music major and mezzo-soprano at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is undertaking a performance-based independent study. In collaboration with David G. Frey Distinguished Professor Dr. Naomi André, the two will be completing a research project on little-known American composer, Connie Converse, and her song cycle, Cassandra Cycle for voice and piano. 

Cassandra Cycle is based on the story of the prophetess Cassandra of Greek mythology. The cycle details Cassandra’s experiences from her own perspective using Converse’s poetry. Converse (b. 1924) is a fascinating figure who was a singer-songwriter, composer, poet, visual artist, and activist in social justice issues.

Converse’s story captivated Carrina and inspired her to pursue this project as an independent study her senior year. There is only one recording of the complete song cycle, and it is practically unknown in the world of classical voice. Carrina aspires for this endeavor to elevate Connie Converse’s recognition and foster greater appreciation for her contributions to music. 

“I’m really excited, this is the first true passion project I’ve undertaken,” said Macaluso. “It’s not a part of my degree requirements, it’s something I’m doing on my own. I have loved getting to absorb all this information and be a sponge.”

2024 is also the centennial of Converse’s birth, so this year in particular is an especially relevant one to highlight her musical works. “I think if you do choose to come, you will learn a lot more about a very important woman in history.” 

Carrina will be performing Converse’s Cassandra Cycle during Women’s History Month on March 1st at 6:30 pm in Person Recital Hall

by Casey Mentch, class of 2024

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