Mother Tales

Florence Price composer
Gabriela Lena Frank composer
Liliya Ugay composer
Amy Beach composer

Sunmi Chang violin
Clara Yang piano

Release Date: December 8, 2023
Catalog #: NV6581
Format: Digital
20th Century
21st Century

Against the backdrop of the pandemic, violinist Sunmi Chang and pianist Clara Yang embarked on this meaningful project. MOTHER TALES is an album that pays tribute to four remarkable women composers – Florence Price, Gabriela Lena Frank, Liliya Ugay, and Amy Beach. Notably, the album shares the same title as Liliya Ugay’s commissioned work, an exquisite and heartwarming piece that reflects on motherhood. However, in this project, the concept of a “mother” transcends biological boundaries, encompassing all those who have had a profound influence and nurturing presence in the lives of others.


Hear a preview of the album

Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Fantasie No. 1 in G Minor for Violin and Piano Florence Price Sunmi Chang, violin; Clara Yang, piano 4:16
02 Sueños de Chambi: Snapshots for an Andean Album: I. Harawi de Quispe Gabriela Lena Frank Sunmi Chang, violin; Clara Yang, piano 3:41
03 Sueños de Chambi: Snapshots for an Andean Album: II. Diablicos Puneños Gabriela Lena Frank Sunmi Chang, violin; Clara Yang, piano 3:07
04 Sueños de Chambi: Snapshots for an Andean Album: III. Responsorio Lauramarqueño Gabriela Lena Frank Sunmi Chang, violin; Clara Yang, piano 4:12
05 Sueños de Chambi: Snapshots for an Andean Album: IV. P’asña Marcha Gabriela Lena Frank Sunmi Chang, violin; Clara Yang, piano 3:09
06 Sueños de Chambi: Snapshots for an Andean Album: V. Adoración para Angelitos Gabriela Lena Frank Sunmi Chang, violin; Clara Yang, piano 3:00
07 Sueños de Chambi: Snapshots for an Andean Album: VI. Harawi de Chambi Gabriela Lena Frank Sunmi Chang, violin; Clara Yang, piano 4:08
08 Sueños de Chambi: Snapshots for an Andean Album: VII. Marinera Gabriela Lena Frank Sunmi Chang, violin; Clara Yang, piano 2:26
09 Mother Tales: I. Croon Liliya Ugay Sunmi Chang, violin; Clara Yang, piano 6:04
10 Mother Tales: II. Perpetual Delight Liliya Ugay Sunmi Chang, violin; Clara Yang, piano 4:32
11 Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op. 34: I. Allegro moderato Amy Beach Sunmi Chang, violin; Clara Yang, piano 9:20
12 Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op. 34: II. Scherzo Amy Beach Sunmi Chang, violin; Clara Yang, piano 4:32
13 Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op. 34: III. Largo con dolore Amy Beach Sunmi Chang, violin; Clara Yang, piano 8:19
14 Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op. 34: IV. Allegro con fuoco Amy Beach Sunmi Chang, violin; Clara Yang, piano 8:16

Recorded December 4-6, 2022 at Moeser Auditorium, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in Chapel Hill NC
Recording Session Producer and Engineer Nathaniel Yaffe

Executive Producer Bob Lord

A&R Director Brandon MacNeil

VP of Production Jan Košulič
Audio Director Lucas Paquette

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming
Publicity Aidan Curran

Artist Information

Sunmi Chang

Sunmi Chang


As the laureate of the 2007 International Markneukirchen Violin Competition, and the 2007 Sion-Valais International Violin Competition, Sunmi Chang has performed widely and to acclaim throughout North America and Europe as a solo artist and chamber musician. In 2008, she was the soloist of the Asian Tour to Seoul, Beijing, and Shanghai with the Yale Philharmonia, performing the Beethoven Violin Concerto.

Clara Yang


Clara Yang has performed in notable venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Forbidden City Concert Hall (Beijing), and the Auditorio Nacional de Música (Madrid). She is currently Associate Professor of Piano and Head of Keyboard Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill. As a soloist, she has collaborated with renowned conductors such as Vladimir Ashkenazy, Long Yu, Carl St. Clair, and Grant Llewellyn. She performed alongside Philip Glass in the Glass at 80 Festival, and she performed the world premiere of distinguished composer Chen Yi’s piano concerto with the China Philharmonic Orchestra in Beijing.


It was a historic moment when Florence Price (1887-1953) became the first Black woman composer to have a symphony performed by a major orchestra in America. Her Symphony No. 1 in E Minor was performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1933. Born into a mixed-race family, Price had to navigate through complicated race, gender, and identity issues of the time to find her creative voice. At the New England Conservatory, she registered as a Mexican student to avoid racial discrimination against Black Americans. In a poignant letter to the conductor Serge Koussevitzky, Price writes, “My dear Dr. Koussevitzky, To begin with I have two handicaps — those of sex and race. I am a woman; and I have some Negro blood in my veins.” Despite her remarkable talent, most of her works were unpublished during her lifetime due to racial and gender discrimination. In 2009, a large collection of her works and papers was discovered by accident in an abandoned house in St. Anne IL. In his 2018 New Yorker article The Rediscovery of Florence Price, Alex Ross exclaims, “Not only did Price fail to enter the canon; a large quantity of her music came perilously close to obliteration. That run-down house in St. Anne is a potent symbol of how a country can forget its cultural history.” In recent decades, an increasing number of artists and scholars are introducing Florence Price’s works to the public, ensuring her rightful place in the canon of classical music.

In Fantasie No. 1 in G Minor for Violin and Piano, Price beautifully synthesizes the harmonic and melodic characters of the African American folksong with the western post-Romantic harmonic language. The piece opens with a violin cadenza in which the violin expresses emotional intensity in an improvised manner. Once the piano joins the violin, the texture changes into a more rhythmic one. Many themes in this piece have characters influenced by African American folk music, including the usage of a call-and-response approach. Her music is always natural and moving. As we go through these sections of contrasting moods and characters, we experience a journey of reflections, memories, and discoveries.

— Clara Yang

This piece is inspired by the work of Martin Chambi (1891–1973), the first Amerindian photographer to achieve international acclaim, albeit posthumously. In a career spanning half a century, he recorded as much Peruvian life, architecture, and landscape as possible, having had the good fortune to train with Max T. Vargas in the southern Peruvian town of Arequipa as a young boy. In 1920, he opened a studio in Cusco, the original capital of the Inca empire, which became his home base for his study of indigenous cultures. In his documentation of both the Quechua-speaking descendants of the Incas and the mestizo (mixed-race) populace, Chambi produced more than 18,000 glass negatives depicting the customs and festivals, the working lives, and public celebrations of 20th century Peruvians.

Sueños de Chambi is my musical interpretation of seven photographs from Chambi’s vast collection of pictures. I was first introduced to Chambi’s work at the encouragement of compadre and friend Rodney Waters, a pianist and fine photographer himself. Having watched me explore my Peruvian heritage (in music and otherwise) for some time, Waters purchased a slim volume containing some of Chambi’s work for me one day… and I fell in love with the images. In the summer of 2006, several years after the completion of this work, I had the opportunity to meet the descendants of Martin Chambi in Cusco and witness their ongoing efforts to bring more international attention to Chambi’s vast body of work. I am hopeful that such exposure will encourage more study of this important and very beautiful collection.

I. “Harawi de Quispe ‘Portrait of Miguel Quispe’”
Nicknamed “El Inca” for hiking these mountains barefoot, Miguel Quispe was famous for his nonviolent organizations against the deplorable economic conditions of the Indians.

II. “Diablicos puneños”
The picture (“Danzarin de la Diablada, 1925”) features a single dancer from the southern Peruvian region of Puno dressed as a devil. The piano flows attacca into this second movement from the first, setting the scene for a dance number with a singing melody on repeated notes. Black-note clusters imitate shacapa percussion while the violin plays in legato and connected parallel fourths to imitate the tayqa, an extremely large and breathy panpipe.

III. “Responsorio lauramarqueño”
The music is structured as antiphonal responses between short solo piano interludes and the serrana (mountain) cantilena melody sung by the violin. The cantilena melody is set against a swinging piano backdrop meant to convey the should of the wind in the regional trees.

IV. “P’asña marcha”
After a capricious opening evoking the tremolo and pizzicato sounds of charangos (instruments similar to the mandolin) and guitars, a carnavalito rhythm persists throughout as an ostinato ground in the piano. The tinya drum is alluded to as well — small in size, it is one of the only instruments commonly played by women in indigenous Peruvian culture.

V. “Adoración para angelitos”
As a piano solo, the 5th movement of the work sets a Peruvian nursery rhyme to reflect “Dead Child Displayed for the Mourners, Cusco, Peru, 1920.”

VI. “Harawi de Chambi”
The same harawi melody from the introduction is set in the finale. I also pay tribute to the folk-influenced music of Bela Bartók by alluding to his second sonata for violin and piano.

VII. “Marinera”
“Folkloric Musicians, Cusco, Peru, 1934” was the inspiration for the final movement, written in an enlivened marinera style, a coastal dance popular among folk musicians throughout Peru.

— Gabriela Lena Frank

Composer-mothers have been vastly underrepresented in the history of music of the past and present. The nature of female physicality and intensity of professional activity that is necessary to sustain one’s composition career force women-composers to choose between childbirth and dedication to their profession. Mothers are so rare among the living composers that the examples of them are rather exceptions. Thus, ironically, roughly all music we know that was inspired by parenthood or/and young children was composed by men. The lack of mothers in this field led to the huge gap in representation that does not fairly reflect the reality of our world.

Mother Tales was inspired by the typical motherhood routine, much of which consists of putting the child to sleep and playing. The first movement, titled “croon,” is a lullaby that starts from humming and then turns into mother’s thoughts, both excitement and fear of the unknown future mixed with tenderness and vulnerability this little world embodies. The second movement, “perpetual delight,” plays with tiny, tinkly, twinkly, rattly, and shaker-like toys that become a world of discoveries for a new curious mind.

Mother Tales was commissioned by Sunmi Chang and Clara Yang and was premiered at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, on April 23, 2022.

— Liliya Ugay

Amy Beach (1867-1944) was a brilliant composer and pianist who had a great impact on the classical music world in America in the late 19th to early 20th century. After musical studies in her teenage years, she was mostly self-taught as a composer. In an era defined by constricting gender and class norms that curtailed women’s professional prospects, Beach’s path as a composer was uniquely challenging. She had to agree to restrict her musical activities after her marriage to the Boston surgeon Henry Harris Aubrey Beach. Since then, her name would be listed on published works and concert programs as H.H.A. Beach. A pioneering female composer of her time, her Gaelic Symphony, which was premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, was the first symphony composed and published by an American woman. In addition, Beach helped further the careers of many young musicians, and she was the first president of the Society of American Women Composers.

Beach’s unique voice in her compositions is bold, poetic, and deeply personal. Her sonata for violin and piano, Op. 34 was premiered by Franz Kneisel and Amy Beach herself in 1897. This extraordinary sonata depicts a dramatic narrative in four movements. Beach’s writing in this piece is characterized by a Romantic harmonic language, rich and varied textures, and a tight structure. The captivating interplay between the two instruments propels the storyline and unfolds the drama organically. The writing for both the piano and the violin is virtuosic and idiomatic. Beach often uses long phrases to delay the expected destination to show her unique sense of timing and structure. The opening theme serves as a foundation and a germinating idea for the entire piece. Setting the first movement in a traditional sonata form, Beach has created a distinctive and realistic character for each theme. The charming second movement sparkles with lightness, humor, and whim. The third movement is particularly moving, opening with a piano introduction that exudes sorrow and pain. Building to a cathartic climax, a series of syncopated rhythms in the piano part creates a sense of breathlessness in a dramatic conversation with the violin. Audiences during Amy Beach’s time had a great emotional response to this movement. The last movement is effectively done by juxtaposing rhythmically energetic sections with lyrical themes of great tenderness and beauty. The coda gathers more momentum and brings the sonata to a triumphant ending.

— Clara Yang