Music IC Festival

Anonymous was a Woman: Centering Women’s Perspectives

June 21-24, 2023

There are no upcoming events at this time.


MusicIC returns June 21-24, 2023, for its 13th season. Titled after the line “for most of history, Anonymous was a woman,” from Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, the festival will center Women’s perspectives through conversation, pre-concert lectures, and inventive musical programming. Bringing back beloved performers as well as welcoming new faces, MusicIC is excited to have the following performers join us for the 2023 season – Tricia Park, violin; Miki-Sophia Cloud, violin; Halam Kim, viola; Laura Usiskin, cello; Lara Saldanha, piano; and Caitlin McKechney, mezzo-soprano.

On Wednesday, June 21, at 7 p.m., MusicIC will present a pre-recorded conversation between Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and essayist, Marilynne Robinson and Pulitzer Prize- and Grammy Award–winning composer Caroline Shaw, moderated by MusicIC’s Founding Artist Director Tricia Park. The women will discuss Shaw’s string quartet Three Essays, the first movement of which was written to mimic Robinson’s writing. Segments of the string quartet will be performed live, in tandem with the conversation. Three Essays was a 2023 Grammy Award-winner, as part of the Attacca Quartet’s album Evergreen, which won Best Chamber Music / Small Ensemble Performance. The conversation will be free and open to the public and will be presented in Meeting Room A at the Iowa City Public Library (123 S. Linn St.).

Thursday’s concert, Centering Women’s Perspectives, will feature myriad contemporary female composers, incorporating perspectives from a collection of Western and non-Western musical traditions. The program aims to re-examine musical and literary hierarchies by presenting string quartets of oral-based storytelling songs from Mali, Indian Ragas, and melodies based on Iranian poetry. Composers represented on this concert include Caroline Shaw, Hawa Kassé Mady Diabaté, Jessie Montgomery, Aftab Darvishi, Reena Esmail, and MusicIC’s own Tricia Park. This concert will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 22, at Trinity Episcopal Church (320 E College St.), and is free and open to the public.

Friday, June 23, will see MusicIC present Anonymous Was a Woman, an intimate, ticketed concert at 7:30 p.m. at Riverside Theatre (119 E College St.), drawing connections between two powerhouse women: Prominent English author and feminist icon, Virginia Woolf, and composer Dame Ethel Smyth – the first female composer to be granted a damehood. The program will begin with Smyth’s Violin Sonata in A minor (Op. 7), written in 1887. Though the classical music canon has historically relegated her to a footnote, Smyth is enjoying some long overdue recognition, both for her distinctive musical voice and larger than life personality. Ahead of her time, Smyth was a suffragette and defiantly out about her sexuality and relationships with women.

Following Smyth’s Sonata, audiences will be treated to a semi-staged version of Dominick Argento’s song cycle From the Diary of Virginia Woolf, which won the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for Music, the same year it premiered in Minneapolis. Smyth and Woolf would meet near the end of their lives and continue a fruitful intellectual and artistic relationship, lasting until Woolf’s suicide in 1941. By pairing Smyth’s music and Woolf’s private words, we can begin to allow the deeply personal etchings of these two women to fully come to the forefront, in a way they were unable to during their lives.

Before the concert, music scholar, author, and University of Iowa Professor Marian Wilson Kimber will give a talk exploring the development of works by women artists and the barriers they faced. General admission tickets to the Friday, June 23, concert are $20; $10 for students. They are available at the Riverside Theatre box office at or by calling (319) 259-7099.

To round out the season, MusicIC will return to the Iowa City Public Library to perform its beloved family concert at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 24, featuring a program of musical storytelling for kids of all ages, in partnership with the Iowa City Public Library children’s department.

Music and literature festival, MusicIC, was created out of a deep love for Iowa City, further inspired by Iowa City’s 2008 designation as the first City of Literature in the United States. The festival is presented by the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature organization in collaboration with Founding Artistic Director Tricia Park and Managing Director, Meagan Brus. It reflects the creative interests of the community through inventive musical concerts, in-depth lectures & discussions, and free community events, open to the public. Further strengthening the festival’s musical and literary ties to the community, MusicIC enjoys a fruitful relationship with Amy Margolis and Iowa Summer Writing Festival, often collaborating with contemporary writers and artists. A secondary mission of the festival, since its beginnings in 2010, is to bring “Iowa-grown” and Midwestern musicians and artists back to Iowa City.

Previous Programs












Thank you to our sponsors

About the Participants


Iowa native Meagan Amelia Brus is delighted to serve as Managing Director of MusicIC, following her years as a featured MusicIC performer from 2012-2018, most recently as the soloist in a classical arrangement of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. In addition to her position with MusicIC, Ms. Brus also serves as the Program Coordinator for Portland, Maine-based Classical Uprising, an adventurous organization rethinking the classical music experience through immersive events, performances, and educational programs, and Lead Creative Content Producer for the community-based concert series Adrienne Danrich’s Music as the Message.

Ms. Brus’ performance career spanned the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Europe, including appearances giving masterclasses, performance lectures, and new music workshops. Specializing in contemporary music, Ms. Brus has given the World Premiere performances of over three dozen works by living composers from around the world, including many written or arranged specifically for her. Ms.Brus’ World Premiere performance of Carson Kievman’s Fairy Tales: Songs of the Dandelion Woman (SoBe Arts), prompted Lawrence Budman of the Miami Herald to write, “In the title role, Meagan Brus dominates the stage with a frightening emotional intensity… A vocal and dramatic tour de force, her performance is a singular triumph.”

As both a vocalist and instrumentalist, Ms. Brus can be heard on the albums Lieder|Canciones (sTem), This May Not Work and Everyone Went Home Alone (ADC), Opera Cowgirls: Always Unplugged (Opera Cowgirls), and the soundtracks for Halo: Spartan Strike / The Fall of Reach / Spartan Assault, Galactic Reign, Tom Clancy’s: Ghost Recon Future Soldier and H.A.W.X. 2

Ms. Brus holds degrees from both the Manhattan School of Music and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

Photo by Yoon S. Byun

Miki-Sophia Cloud

Miki Cloud enjoys a rich musical life as a violinist and artistic director passionate about building community.  Chosen as the inaugural recipient of the Sun-Law Vuillaume Fellowship, Miki is fueled by music’s ability to connect people more deeply to one another and to themselves.

Since 2009, Miki has been a core member of the self-conducted chamber orchestra, A Far Cry, where she serves as one of its violinists, co-artistic directors, and since 2021, head of community partnerships and learning.  Acclaimed for her thoughtful and innovative approach to the listening experience, her programming and artistic direction has been described as “ingeniously crafted” by the Boston Globe and “intoxicating” by the New York Times.

Miki is a former member of the New York-based Solera Quartet, winners of the 2017 Pro Musicis International Award and 2018 Guarneri Quartet Residency from Chamber Music America.  She is also a former artistic director of the White Mountains Music Festival.

Past studies include Harvard College, Yale School of Music, New England Conservatory, and the Perlman Music Program.  As an educator and teaching artist, Miki has been privileged to share music in educational and community spaces across America – most recently Dartmouth College, Project STEP, Boston Children’s Hospital, Notre Dame University, and Corrigan Radgowski Correctional Center.  

When not working in music, she spends most of her time learning to see the world through the eyes of her spirited, creative, and expressive kid.

Halam Kim

Korean American violist Halam Kim is a passionate performer and educator who enjoys a versatile career in solo and chamber music as well as in education. 

Her major solo accomplishments include performances of Walton’s Viola Concerto with the Eastman Philharmonia and Philharmonie Baden-Baden. As a chamber musician, she regularly performs at Carnegie Hall and at the Juilliard School through her affiliation with Ensemble Connect.  In previous years, she had the privilege to perform with Itzhak Perlman, Robin Scott, Zachary DePue, and Natalie Helm. 

Halam received her master’s degree from The Juilliard School and her bachelor’s degree with a performer’s certificate from the Eastman School of Music. During her time at Eastman, she also majored in Psychology at the University of Rochester. Her previous teachers include I-Hao Lee, Kim Kashkashian, Carol Rodland, and Phillip Ying. She recently finished her fellowship at Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble Connect where she enjoyed teaching students at PS/IS 226 Alfred De B. Mason in Brooklyn as well as students at Skidmore College and Saratoga public schools. 

Halam’s mission is to communicate what words cannot by connecting with people, inspiring the next generation, healing others, and sharing what she loves deeply. In her free time, she enjoys visiting her family and her dog in Port Washington, NY as well as her new in-law family in Farmington, CT. 

Caitlin McKechney

Caitlin McKechney, mezzo-soprano, is a vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer, wife and mom.  Caitlin has been seen in a wide variety of roles including Inez Serrano in Andy Vores’s operatic treatment of Sartre’s No Exit and Suzuki in Madama Butterfly (both with Florida Grand Opera), the title role in Carmen (Opera Memphis, Painted Sky Opera, Tacoma Opera, Stony Brook Opera), Ruth in Pirates of Penzance (Opera North), Dinah in Trouble in Tahiti (Magic City Opera and Orchestra Miami), Maddalena in Rigoletto (Opera Connecticut), Woman 4 in Letters That You Will Not Get (The American Opera Project, for which she also served as Associate Producer), Lilli Vanessi in Kiss Me Kate (Broadway Theater of Pitman, North Street Playhouse and NightBlue Theater) and a member of the 6 person actor-musician show The Irish and How They Got That Way by Frank McCourt.  Caitlin’s first musical theater composition, Muse: The Women of Picasso, will be premiered in 2024 as a part of Irondale Theater’s On Women Festival in Brooklyn, NYCaitlin is also “head cowgirl” in the all-female, alt-country opera fusion band, the Opera Cowgirls, where Grand Opera meets the Grand Ol’ Opry.


Violinist | Writer | Educator

Praised by critics for her “astounding virtuosic gifts” (Boston Herald), “achingly pure sound” (The Toronto Star), and “impressive technical and interpretive control” (The New York Times), Tricia Park enjoys a diverse and eclectic career as a violinist, educator, writer, curator, and podcaster.

Tricia is the producer and host of the podcast, “Is it Recess Yet? Confessions of a Former Child Prodigy.” She is the recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, a Fulbright grant, and was selected as one of “Korea’s World Leaders of Tomorrow” by the Korean Daily Central newspaper. Since appearing in her first orchestral engagement at age 13 with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, she has performed with the English Chamber Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, and National Symphony Orchestra of South Africa; the Montreal, Dallas, Cincinnati, Seattle, Honolulu, Nevada, and Lincoln Symphonies; and the Calgary, Buffalo, and Westchester and Naples Philharmonics. Tricia has given recitals throughout the United States and abroad, including a highly acclaimed performance at the Ravinia Rising Stars series. She also performs as half of the violin-fiddle duo, Tricia & Taylor, with fiddler-violinist, Taylor Morris.

Other career highlights include Tricia’s recital debut at the Kennedy Center, appearances at the Lincoln Center Festival, her Korean debut with the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) Orchestra and collaborations with composer Tan Dun. As First Violinist of the Maia Quartet from 2005-2011, she performed at Lincoln Center and the 92nd Street Y in New York and Beijing’s Forbidden City Hall and was on faculty at the University of Iowa.

Tricia is the founder of the Solera Quartet, winner of the Pro Musicis International Award and the first American chamber ensemble chosen for this distinction. The Soleras’ debut album, Every Moment Present, was hailed by The New York Times as “intoxicating….The quartet’s playing on the recording is sensitive and finely articulated throughout and the sound bright and vivid.”

Tricia received her Bachelor and Master of Music from the Juilliard School where she was a recipient of the Starling-DeLay Teaching Fellowship. She has performed chamber music with Pinchas Zukerman, Cho-Liang Lin, Michael Tree, Gary Hoffman, Paul Neubauer, Robert McDonald, and members of the American, Guarneri, Juilliard, Orion String Quartets and Eighth Blackbird. Former teachers include Dorothy DeLay, Felix Galimir, Cho-Liang Lin, Donald Weilerstein, Hyo Kang, and Piotr Milewski.

Passionate about arts education and community development, Tricia is the co-founder and artistic director of MusicIC. Tricia received an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she was awarded the New Artist Society Scholarship and a Writing Fellow Prize. She has taught writing for the Iowa Summer Writing Festival at the University of Iowa and she is the co-lead of the Chicago chapter of Women Who Submit, an organization that seeks to empower women and non binary writers.

Currently, Tricia works for Graywolf Press, is Associate Director of Cleaver Magazine Workshops where she is also a Creative Non Fiction editor and faculty instructor, and maintains a private studio of violin/viola students and writing clients.

Learn more about Tricia and subscribe to her newsletter at:

Listen to Tricia on her YouTube Channel:

Lara Saldanha

The “maturity” of pianist Lara Saldanha’s performances has been described as “hugely impressive” (Navhind Times.) Lara has performed across the United States, Europe, and Asia, and looks forward to appearances at the Rites of Spring Festival in North Fork, NY, MusicIC Festival in Iowa City, Icicle Creek in Leavenworth, WA, National Federation of Music Clubs Convention in Richmond, VA, and Howland Cultural Center in Beacon, NY among others in 2023. Past performance highlights include appearances at the German Consulate, Bohemian National Hall, Alice Tully Hall, and the DiMenna Center in NYC, with the Texas Festival Orchestra, and her Indian debut at the National Center for the Performing Arts , Kala Academy, and Pune Music Society in 2017.

Lara will complete her doctorate at Stony Brook University in fall 2023, studying with Christina Dahl. She received her Performance Diploma and Master’s from Mannes, studying with Vladimir Valjarevic, and B.M./B.A. from Northwestern, in the studio of Alan Chow. She has also studied with Serguei Milstein at the Geneva Conservatory of Music in Switzerland, Inna Terekhov, and Neya Korsantia.

Lara is a passionate music educator; she teaches undergraduate students at Stony Brook University, held Teaching Assistantships at both Stony Brook and Mannes, and has a thriving studio of over 25 students in New York City. Lara is passionate about making concerts accessible to all walks of life, and frequently plays in community centers, retirement communities, and house concerts to that end. 

Laura Usiskin

Laura Usiskin (she/her) enjoys a versatile career as a cellist and educator. Her playing has taken her to concert halls throughout the United States and Europe, including the Kennedy Center, Palazzo Chigi Saracini, Symphony Hall (Boston), and New York venues including Alice Tully Hall, Weill Hall, Zankel Hall, Merkin Hall, Miller Theatre, Barge Music, Steinway Hall, and Klavierhaus. While completing an Artist-In-Residency with the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra, Usiskin founded and served as the inaugural Executive Director of the Montgomery Music Project, an El Sistema strings program in Montgomery, Alabama. The program, now more than 10 years old, has given intensive string instruction to hundreds of low-income children across three counties. Usiskin is a member of the Bayberry String Quartet as well as the Atlanta-based new music group ensemble vim. She has served on the faculty of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, through which she founded the chamber series Chamber Music @ AEIVA, as well as Birmingham-Southern College and the Alabama School of Fine Arts. Usiskin graduated from Columbia University cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Neuroscience and Behavior, The Juilliard School with a Master of Music, and Yale University with a Doctor of Musical Arts. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and two children. 

Marian Wilson Kimber

Marian Wilson Kimber is a scholar of music in the long nineteenth century. Her research explores issues surrounding biography, gender, compositional process, musical reception, and relationships between music and the spoken word. Her publications have centered on Felix Mendelssohn, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, elocution with musical accompaniment, and the role of spoken word performance in concert life.

Wilson Kimber’s book The Elocutionists: Women, Music, and the Spoken Word (University of Illinois Press, 2017), was the recipient of the Society for American Music’s H. Earle Johnson Publication Subvention, as well as a subvention from the American Musicological Society’s 75 PAYS Endowment, funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Mellon Foundation. The book explores the leading role American women played in performances of accompanied recitation, concert readings, Delsarte posing, and choral speaking, and the development of melodramatic compositions by women composers for female audiences.

Stay in the loop


* indicates required