William Averitt

Afro-American Fragments

The highest peak occurred in the last of the selections from William Averitt's Afro-American Fragments to poems by Langston Hughes, a recurring refrain with the text "Fire, Fire, Lord!" The rhythmic energy here was arresting.
-- Review of Conspirare CD through the green fuse by David Mead for Austin American-Statesman Review

Another excellent work is “Feet o' Jesus,” a poignant a cappella expression full of vibrant, sometimes pungent harmonies, part of a set of three Afro American Fragments by William Averitt . . . The other two in the set have very effectively written piano accompaniments--and this is one of the best-sounding and best-recorded pianos I've ever heard on CD, particularly in a choir-accompaniment role. 
-- Review of Conspirare CD through the green fuse by David Vernier for Classics Today.com

Sometimes the soulfulness of the singing can take your breath away, as when Melissa Givens' soprano wings elegiacally above the low, sustained tones of the choir on William Averitt's "Song for Billie Holiday." 
– Review of Conspirare CD through the green fuse by Robert Faires for Austin Chronicle: 21 January, 2005

Of William Averitt's settings of three Langston Hughes poems, the most memorable was "Song for Billie Holiday," a supple blend of lyrical modernism and blues style. One could imagine Holiday singing it, but no one could complain about soprano Ava Pine's lustrous solo performance on Sunday. 
– Review of Conspirare CD through the green fuse by Mike Greenberg, Senior Critic for Express-News 

You wouldn't expect such a seemingly straight-laced ensemble to perform black gospel and folk music with the right ardor, but the choir does so gorgeously — and with soul — in William Averitt's Afro American Fragments.
– Review of Conspirare CD through the green fuse by Michael Barnes for Austin 360.com

Against Forgetting

At Sunday's conclusion of Against Forgetting - Shenandoah University composer William Averitt's new composition in memory of the Holocaust - there were few dry eyes in the crowd. The 200-strong audience leapt to its feet for a standing ovation.  
-- The Winchester Star, 14 July, 1995

American Folk Song Suite

This work is a wonderful addition to the repertoire for flute, cello, and piano. The settings of the songs are quite imaginative, spreading the melodies throughout the ensemble, and utilizing jazzy harmonies, changing meters and syncopation to give fresh life to these familiar tunes.
--NACWPI Journal, Fall, 2003


There then followed Elegy for Flute, a finely-wrought piece of atonal (and modal) impressionism, written by Dr. William Averitt in 1977 to memorialize the death of his father. . . The triad of flute, orchestral strings, and dramatically balanced percussion, an orchestration of unique dynamics, and composition that may well hint of mysticism all gave to the Elegy a quality of music as sometimes coming from another world. As an outpouring of feeling and incredible sadness, its effect was hypnotic.  
-- The Springfield [VA] Independent, 1 February, 1979 

Four Appalachian Folk Ballads

The most interesting piece of the evening turned out to be the last work on the program: Four Appalachian Folk Ballads by Shenandoah Conservatory composer William Averitt.  Moved by mature compositional inspiration, the four folk songs are recast here in a special, but similar, mold; now sounding neo-baroque, now totally contemporary. Flute and soprano face each other off and compete in their full-tone parts against each other, while the harpsichordist joins in and offers a rich accompaniment of her own.  
-- translated from Remszeitung, 14 July, 1990

In conclusion, we heard the world premier of Four Appalachian Folk Ballads for soprano, flute, and harpsichord.  This new work by Shenandoah Conservatory composer William Averitt proved to be the crowning jewel of this extraordinary evening.  
-- translated from Gmünder Post, 13 July, 1990


The Bach Choir opened its 10th season under music director Brady Allred with a concert of 20th-century choral works Saturday evening at East Liberty Presbyterian Church. For the occasion, the choir commissioned Lacrymae by William Averitt. Set in three movements to verses from Lamentations, it's a cyclical work of post-modern impressionism that creates just enough catharsis to leave the listener with a sense of hope.
-- Review by Eric Haines for the Post-Gazette, October, 2003


The premiere was William Averitt's Partita. The dissonant 17-minute work, in five movements, is highly eclectic, with attractive sonorities that bid for one's attention throughout.  
-- The Atlanta Journal, 15 January, 1980

William Averitt's Partita written especially for the Chamber Players . . . was a unique and effective five-movement atonal work employing diverse compositional methods . . . The composition definitely deserves attention.  
-- The Atlanta Marquee, 25 January, 1980


The second work on the album, William Averitt's Tripartita from 1989, is a real find for the Verdehrs. The three-movement work never lags for a moment, with its quirky themes and impressive use of the trio's contrasting timbres.  
-- Review of Verdehr Trio CD, The Making of a Medium Vol. 3 in The Lansing Capital Times, June, 1994 

In total contrast with Schuller’s tense, often troubled trio, Averitt’s Tripartita is somewhat lighter in mood, though definitely not lightweight music. The first movement states a number of ideas that are worked-out in the following movements. The music, however, often incorporates elements derived from popular music idioms. So, the second movement Dances (actually a Scherzo with two trios) has some jazzy inflections whereas the third movement Blues with Variations, thematically linked to the preceding Scherzo, also contains echoes of waltz and tango. This is a quite attractive work, superbly crafted and ingenuously worked-out. No trifle, for sure, but it provides for some relaxation. Crystal's series The Making of a Medium, of which this release is Volume 3, not only demonstrates the outstanding musical qualities of the Verdehr Trio but also offers an excellent survey of the many works written for them. This release is, no doubt, one of the most rewarding so far for its couples three substantial works of quality that are well worth hearing. 
-- Hubert Culot  -- Music Web UK, October, 2002

The names of the sections of Averitt's Tripartita [Elaborations, Dances, Blues with Variations] speak for themselves. I is quite passionate, even romantic, in a modern sort of way. A portion of III is reminiscent of the "Blues" of Ravel's violin sonata, without quite the flair of Ravel, while parts of II and III remind me of the Stravinsky of the clarinet trio reduction of A Soldier's Tale. All in all, it is a moving piece of music.  
-- Review of Verdehr Trio CD, The Making of a Medium Vol. 3 in The American Record Guide, Nov/Dec, 1994

The relaxed, straightforward lyricism of William Averitt's Tripartita makes for the single rewarding work on this program.   
-- Review of Verdehr Trio CD, The Making of a Medium Vol. 3 in Fanfare, Sept/Oct, 1994

Suppose you could step into a time machine, transport yourself back to 1810 and take in an afternoon of new music by Beethoven and five of his contemporaries. Odds are, you would hear one good piece (by Beethoven), something else of middling quality (Hummel, maybe) and four duds. You would have a similar experience with new music at most any other time in history.

William Averitt of Shenandoah College and Conservatory of Music is no Beethoven, but he sounded like a master in the company he kept yesterday afternoon in a concert of contemporary works of Virginia composers given by Currents, the new-music ensemble of the University of Richmond.

Averitt's Tripartita (1989) for violin, clarinet, and piano was far and away the best of six pieces on the program.  It is not wildly original music - echoes of Debussy, Gershwin, Kurt Weill, and Thelonious Monk abound - but is richly evocative, well-crafted and clearly meant to be listened to.
-- The Richmond Times-Dispatch, 12 November, 1990

William Averitt's Tripartita embraces the timbral "weakness" of violin against clarinet. At the beginning he merges the two in sheets of thin, icy legato supported by rippling piano effects. At the end the sonorities evoke a squawky honky-tonk and the rough march-like melodic style of Kurt Weill.  
-- The New York Times, 14 November, 1990