June 16, 23 and 30 at 8:00PM
Celebrate Bloomsday with a radio performance of James Joyce’s “Cyclops”
Victoria Bond’s composition, performed by The Manhattan Choral Ensemble, PULSE ensemble and actors
broadcast on WWFM radio Concert Stage Sunday June 16, 8:00PM and available for online listening
Hear the whole Cutting Edge Concerts New Music Festival on WWFM June 16, 23 and 30 at 8:00PM
June 10 The International Alliance for Women in Music has awarded Victoria Bond the 2013 Miriam Gideon Prize for her composition “Two Loves” for soprano, piano and string trio. This aria comes from her opera “Clara” which she is composing with librettist Barbara Zinn Krieger. This year Bond was awarded a “stipendium” from the Brahmshausgesellschaft, and spent the month of May at Brahmshaus in Baden-Baden, Germany, working on the second act of the opera. A performance of the completed opera is scheduled to be premiered in Germany in 2015.
(Picture left) Victoria Bond with the statue of Clara Schumann, Baden-Baden, Germany
(Picture right) Victoria Bond and Barbara Zinn Krieger at Brahmshaus in Baden-Baden, Germany
Pianist Olga Vinokur will premiere Bond’s composition “Binary” at Bargemusic in New York. For ticket information please contact http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/386147
Set Joyce to Music? Yes She Said Yes She Will Yes
Victoria Bond at Symphony Space
By CORINNA da FONSECA-WOLLHEIM
Published: April 2, 2013
for The New York Times
Take a few words by Joyce. How about “herds innumerable” from the Cyclops episode in “Ulysses,” made up of “bellwethers and flushed ewes and shearling rams and lambs and stubble geese and medium steers and roaring mares and polled calves and longwools and storesheep and Cuffe’s prime springers and culls and sowpigs and baconhogs and the various different varieties of highly distinguished swine and Angus heifers and polly bullocks of immaculate pedigree together with prime premiated milchcows and beeves:” — oh, good, a colon, take a breath — “and there is ever heard a trampling, cackling, roaring, lowing, bleating, bellowing, rumbling, grunting, champing, chewing, of sheep and pigs and heavyhoofed kine from pasturelands of Lush and Rush and ...”? We’ll fade out there, but it goes on.
Now set them to music.
Victoria Bond is not the first composer to chip away at Joyce’s monumental novel. But her “Cyclops,” scored for speakers, choir, violin, clarinet and piano, can be counted as one of the more successful ones — not least of all because it didn’t take itself too seriously. On April Fools’ Day, it received its United States premiere at Symphony Space, part of the opening event of the Cutting Edge Concerts New Music Festival. In brief remarks before the performance, Ms. Bond said she had been attracted to the “Cyclops” episode, describing a conversation in a bar, because of its many parodies of different styles of writing, which she likened to musical riffs.
Clara Schumann interests me for many reasons. Her life reminded me of that of my own mother, who had been taught and groomed by her father to be a piano virtuoso. My mother soloed with the Chicago Symphony when she was 10 years old. She traveled to Europe and concertized in many of the major capitals when she was just a teenager, winning the Liszt Competition and studying in Hungary with Bartok and Dohnanyi. She led a glamorous and exciting life, and the stories of her youth dazzled me. I also learned of the great conflicts that took place between her and her father. She was headstrong and independent, just like Clara Schumann, who fought and won a court case in which her father tried to prevent her from marrying Robert. Although my grandfather never stood in the way when my mother decided to marry my father, there were enough similarities for me to gain a great understanding of the struggles that Clara had to endure.
I have also always loved the music of Robert Schumann, and through Clara’s biographer, Nancy Reich, I became acquainted with her music and developed a love for it as well. The story of her romance with Robert was made for opera, as was Robert’s tragic end. Clara’s independent travels as a star performer overturned 19th-century stereotypes of a woman’s role. All this adds up to a story with real dramatic potential.
I brought the idea of the opera to Barbara Zinn Krieger, Artistic Director of “Making Books Sing.” At first we thought of creating an opera for young audiences, the idea being that Clara’s struggle for independence from her father and her romance with Robert would appeal to a teenage audience. However, as the ideas grew and evolved, and Brahms came into the picture, we decided there were too many adult issues in the story and we took the plunge of adapting Clara’s story for a general audience.
Barbara has masterfully distilled the essential scenes that illuminate each of the personalities in our drama. Her libretto is clear, concise and vivid. We have completed several scenes from Act I and plan to continue our work on the opera in Baden-Baden, Germany where we have received a grant to live in Brahms’s studio. He spent many summers here, so that he could be near his beloved Clara, whose home is a short walk from his. Clara would come to Baden-Baden each summer with her children and Brahms was a regular guest at her home. Unfortunately, her house has not been preserved as a museum, but it is still standing, though much altered. Being in the proximity of these two great musicians is inspiring to contemplate.
I have woven original works of Clara and Robert into the fabric of the score. They communicated best with each other in their first language – music. It was central to their relationship and their characters and personalities are embedded in the notes. My own music for the opera grows out of this language, and although it is not in the same harmonic or melodic world of the nineteenth century, I have imbue my music with its spirit.
"Two Loves" from "Clara"
Cutting Edge Concerts New Music Festival 2013
In the intimate Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theater in Peter Norton Symphony Space.
Visit website for more details.
Mrs. President is an opera about the first woman to run for president of the United States. Based on an historic person, Victoria Woodhull, the opera was performed by The New York City Opera and the Anchorage Opera.
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