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They shine; Festival showcases creative spirit of 'Women in Arts'

National Women's History Month may officially begin on Thursday, but we're celebrating a bit early in Buffalo.

The third biannual "Women in the Arts Festival" begins at noon Monday with a recital by Anna Mattix in the Montante Cultural Center at Canisius College and continues through April 4 at various locations with concerts, lectures, an awards luncheon and film festival. The focus, through all of these events, is on the creative process, says Carole Harris, founder of the "Women in Arts Festival."

"Our aim is to showcase the work -- the poetry, the film, the music created by women," says Harris. "It's different than just having a lot of women performers -- this is to highlight actual creations by women."

Harris, a professor of music theory at Canisius College and church organist and music director at the Church of the Nativity in the Town of Tonawanda, started the festival as a small, four-day event to highlight women's organ music in 2008. In 2010, it grew to include events at Canisius College and this year, it has spread further into the community.

The events are free unless noted. Monday's opening is a meet-the-faculty recital featuring Mattix on English horn and oboe.

Other concerts include the Ladies First Big Band at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the Montante Cultural Center ($10, $5 for students); an organ concert by Barbara Harbach, professor of music at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, at 7:30 p.m. next Friday, Christ the King Chapel, Canisius College; the all-female gospel choir, the Alabaster Gospel Choir, at 7:30 p.m. March 3 in the Montante Cultural Center; and the Buffalo Chamber Players at 7:30 p.m. March 21 in Buffalo Seminary (205 Bidwell Parkway), presenting music by female composers "from 17th century Venice to present-day Buffalo" including work by Buffalo-based composer Caroline Mallonee.

Harbach, who served as the head of keyboard studies at the University at Buffalo from 1986-91, will also present the lecture, "21st Century Composers" at noon March 5 in Regis Room of the Richard E. Winter '42 Student Center, Canisius College.

There's also a free film festival with movies starting at 7 p.m. in the Richard W. Winter '42 Student Center. On March 6, "Hannah" will be hosted by Lindsey Row-Heyveld; March 22, "The Heretics," hosted by the Women's Studies Club in memory of Canisius faculty member Justine Price; and April 4, "The Gleaners and I" (2000), hosted by Eileen Angelini.

Enjoy a day of music, art, poetry and cooking from noon to 6 p.m. March 25 in St. Vincent de Paul (2748 Military Road, Town of Niagara).

For information, contact the Canisius College Fine Arts Department at 888-2536 or visit canisius.edu/artscanisius.