During a recital for the Wiregrass Music Teachers’ Forum at Enterprise First Baptist Church on May 5, an original sonatina was performed by four piano students, with one section celebrating the Boll Weevil Monument just in time for its 100-year celebration.
The original piece, titled “Sonatina of the South,” was composed by Dr. Kevin Olson, who has composed other pieces for Wiregrass Music Teachers’ Forum. The forum is comprised of piano teachers from Dothan, Enterprise, Headland and other local communities, piano teacher Hilda Hagins said.
“In 1999, on the fifth anniversary of our annual Sonata Festival, we commissioned Kevin Olson to write a piano piece dedicated to our students,” she said. “He visited us for a weekend in February 1999, made a picture by the famous Boll Weevil Monument, and played his new piece, ‘Sonatina in Seasons,’ in our recital.”
Hagins said a sonatina is a musical piece for a solo instrument, usually written in three or four sections that are all related.
The teachers group, according to Hagins, asked Olson to write a second piece in the Fall of 2018 for the 25th anniversary of the festival, leading to the creation of “Sonatina of the South,” the third section of which was inspired by Olson’s visit to Enterprise and its Boll Weevil Monument.
Each of the sections are titled. The first section is “Lightnin’ Bug Bugaloo;” the second section is “Spanish Moss.” The third section of the piece is titled “Boll Weevil Blues,” and the fourth section is “Hurricane Warning.”
Advanced students of the Wiregrass Music Teachers’ Forum performed the sonatina as part of their honors recital. These students were Bethany Bradshaw, Meghan Johnson, Ruth Sommers and Kaitlin Vitangcol. Bradshaw performed the section honoring Enterprise and the Boll Weevil Monument.
Bradshaw has been practicing piano for nine years under the instruction of Rebecca McManus.
“Once the Wiregrass Music Teachers’ Forum received the piece by Olson, they asked my teacher, Ms. Becky, if she had a student willing to showcase the piece at the recital for its debut performance,” Bradshaw said about being asked to perform the Enterprise-inspired section of the sonatina. “Then, my teacher called me and asked me if I would be interested in performing it. I eagerly jumped to the opportunity.”
Bradshaw said her mother, younger sister and piano teacher watched her perform the piece, which she was honored to play.
“I am happy that I am able to be a part of Enterprise’s celebration of its history and the Boll Weevil Monument,” she said.
Hagins said Bradshaw did “a great job” with the piece.
“Bethany Bradshaw played the Boll Weevil Blues and did a great job,” she said. “I wanted to open the window as she played, but I know if I had that everyone on Main Street, including our Lady, would be dancing along to the music.”