XU celebrates diversity through music

By: Max Bruns ~Staff Writer~

Xavier University’s Music Department is celebrating its fourth year of the Music Series, coordinated by Dr. Polina Bespalko. A piano virtuoso, Bespalko is an adjunct professor of piano for Xavier. According to her, the direction for the music series has been outreach to an “ageless audience.”

“I’ve been very lucky and fortunate to branch these events to welcome every generation,” Bespalko said. “It’s a family event on a Sunday. It’s becoming ageless.”

At 3 p.m. Feb. 28, the series is branching out into the direction of social justice as well. The Music Series is inviting its audience to hold Black History Month in the forefront of their minds by hosting jazz musician Christian Sands.

1“Sands is going to play his original composition, ‘Southern Song,’ which he wrote for Black History Month,” Bespalko said. “He plays the music over original poems by Margaret Walker, author of ‘Jubilee.’”

“It was one of those things that just happened, but it was meant to happen. It was not accidental,” Bespalko said.

Artists like Sands represent the beauty of music that does not concern itself with the artist performing but instead focuses the sound and harmonics, she said.

“I’m bringing artists who have a story,” Bespalko said. “All my artists, there is a story. If you start reading about them, you’ll be attracted to the story and what it represents. Then, the artists become humanized through the music.”

While Sands’ Black History Month tribute was not planned, the Music Series tries to bring in artists with diverse cultural backgrounds.

“I want this (series) to be a cultural outlet of diversity,” Bespalko said. “In music, the walls are broken, and this is how the world should be. This is important to me, (and) it’s also important for me to display what the artists do. It is a combination of who they are and what they do.”

Examples of the Music Series’ intentional diversity include Sara Buechner, Antonio Sanchez and the Bandini-Chiacchiaretta duo: Buechner is a transgender classical pianist, Sanchez is Hispanic in heritage and the Bandini duo features authentic Armenian music.

“I will always purposefully host musicians with a social justice bend,” Bespalko said.

Sands’s performance continues to raise a renewed awareness of recognizing Black History Month.

“I don’t know how Xavier celebrates this month, but I think it is very important and I am excited for Sands to come for this reason,” Bespalko said.

Students can see Sands and any of the other listed artists for a ticket purchase of five dollars. There will be four artists performing on Sundays during March in the Gallagher Student Center Theater.