This concert series showcases music that inspired Virginia Woolf’s writing and that directly responds to her work, including new commissions, world premieres, and little-known music by women composers.

Virginia Woolf famously stated ‘I always think of my books as music before I write them,’ and her writing continues to influence composers who have set her words or been inspired by her novels. This concert series explores the role of music in Woolf’s work, life and afterlives. It highlights, through concert programmes, public lectures, broadcasts and study days, the central role of music in the literary experiments – and in the feminism, pacifism and cosmopolitanism – of this seminal modernist writer. Later concerts explore music’s role in the creative and social lives of the Bloomsbury Group more widely. The series is a collaboration between pianist Lana Bode (Trinity Laban Conservatoire, London) and Dr Emma Sutton (University of St Andrews).

Forthcoming Events

Public Talks: ‘Debussy at Play’
Thursday 8th February 2018, Studio Theatre, Byre Theatre, St Andrews, 5.30-7pm. FREE

As a prelude to the evening concert, three speakers introduce Debussy’s work. Pianist and renowned Debussy scholar Dr Roy Howat, Dr Charlotte de Mille (Courtauld Institute) and Dr David Evans (French, St Andrews) discuss the newly discovered premiere of his children’s ballet La boîte à joujoux (‘The Toy Box’) and the role of pantomime and play in Debussy’s work more widely.

Concert: ‘Pacifism and Pierrot: Debussy in Bloomsbury’
Thursday 8th February 2018, Main Auditorium, Byre Theatre, St Andrews, 8pm-9.30pm.
Tickets £8/£6 [via Byre theatre; ticketing details to follow]

This concert of French song and piano music is a journey through the pleasures and pain of war-time life. The programme explores themes of pacifism, feminism and equality in rarely performed music by Germaine Tailleferre and Nadia Boulanger alongside familiar favourites by Debussy and Poulenc. The programme culminates in Debussy’s children’s ballet La boîte à joujoux (‘The Toy Box’), premiered by the Omega Workshops in 1915 as part of a series of pacifist concerts raising money for Belgian refugees. The ballet was performed not by dancers but by cardboard marionettes; Omega images accompany this performance. Performers: Lana Bode (piano) and Jennifer Witton (soprano).

Children’s Concert and Marionette Presentation: ‘The Toy Box’
Friday 9th February 2018, 10am-10.50am (marionette presentation), 11.10am-11.45am (concert), Main Auditorium, Byre Theatre, St Andrews.
FREE but ticketed [via Byre theatre; ticketing details to follow]

Join pianist Lana Bode and narrator Jennifer Witton (Royal Shakespeare Company) for an exhilarating performance of Debussy’s children’s ballet, La boîte à joujoux (‘The Toy Box’). Meet the inhabitants of the toy box – from the soldier to the dancer – and hear about their adventures in Debussy’s lively music. The performance is accompanied by colourful images inspired by Omega Workshop toys and preceded by an introduction and demonstration by the Scottish Mask and Puppet Centre. Children of all ages welcome with an accompanying adult.