October 04, 2007

AIDS relief benefit concert features noted soprano

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Wilfred Delphin, emeritus professor of music at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, brings celebrated soprano Valerie Francis to Carbondale for a benefit concert on Oct. 20, preceded by a free, lunchtime performance on Oct. 19.

The free performance begins at noon on Oct. 19 at the Old Baptist Foundation Recital Hall. It is a preview of the "Evening of Music and Art for a Cause" AIDS relief benefit concert, set to begin at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 20 at the Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship on Parrish Lane. There is a silent auction of African and local art after the concert and appetizers available. The concert program includes classical and operatic selections from Stradella, Verdi, Duparc, Massenet and Menotti, and selections from African American composers Edward Boatner, Hall Johnson, Betty Jackson King and Gerald Cook.

Proceeds benefit the Ranchhod Hospice and Orphan Care Center, where programs are in place to help people from Kabwe, Zambia, affected by the AIDS epidemic in that area. Carla Feldhamer, one of the concert organizers, noted that the SIUC community has a history of supporting the charity. A minimum donation of $10 is payable at the door. To order tickets in advance, call Feldhamer at 618/457-8606.

Delphin, one half of the internationally renowned piano duo Delphin and Romaine, retired from the SIUC School of Music in 2004. He volunteered with the United States Peace Corps for several months in the West African country of Senegal after his retirement, leaving that country for New Orleans to help with the recovery effort after Hurricane Katrina.

Delphin debuted in 1977 at Carnegie Hall with Edwin Romain. The two of them toured the United States, South America, Europe and Asia. After Romain died in 1995, Delphin continued performing and teaching. His fans include former President Jimmy Carter, for whom he played a solo recital in the East Room of the White House. He is part of Baldwin Piano's "World's Best" promotion and is a South Carolina Arts Commission Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Award winner. Currently, he is a faculty member and artist-in-residence in the Department of Music at Xavier University in New Orleans, where he is also an alumnus.

Francis is also part of Xavier University's School of Music and directs the St. Stephen Baptist Church Youth Choir. She won first place in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Midwest Regional Auditions, and represented the Gulf Coast Region at the Met. She was also the first recipient of the Carol Brice Carey Scholarship there. She won the Meistersinger Competition in Graz, Austria, and is a past auditions winner at the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz. She founded and toured with the University of Oklahoma Heritage Ensemble while earning her doctoral degree at that school. She has had performance roles in productions of "Don Giovanni," "LaForza del Destino," "Le Nozze di Figaro," "Norma," "Dialogue of the Carmelites," "Die Zauberflote," "Madame Butterfly," "La Boheme," "Help!Help! The Globalinks!" "The Consul" and "Carmen."