Welcome

The Virginia Woolf & Music project explores the role of music in the lives and legacies of Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group through concerts, research, workshops, public talks, exhibitions and commissions of new works of art.

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. The project highlights the central role of music in her literary experiments, showcasing music that inspired her writing and that directly responds to her work, including new commissions, world premieres, and little-known music by women composers.

Founded in 2015 with an AHRC Cultural Engagement grant, the UK-based project embraces the feminist, pacifist and cosmopolitan spirit of the Bloomsbury Group. Our collaborators range from primary schools and library reading groups to international academic conferences, theatre companies and renowned performers of classical music.


Forthcoming Events

Concert: Pacifism and Pierrot: Debussy in Bloomsbury
Tuesday 30 January 2018, 1.10pm at St Clement Danes Church, Strand, London

This concert of French song and piano music is a lunchtime recital preview of the Virginia Woolf & Music concert scheduled for 8 February (see below). Works by Debussy, Tailleferre, Nadia Boulanger and Poulenc. Performers: Lana Bode (piano) and Jennifer Witton (soprano). Free entry with retiring collection.


Public Talks: ‘Debussy at Play’
Thursday 8th February 2018, Studio Theatre, Byre Theatre, St Andrews, 5.30-7pm. FREE but ticketed (order tickets via Brye theatre)

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]

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; 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.
SOLD OUT

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 and preceded by an introduction and demonstration by the Scottish Mask and Puppet Centre. Children of all ages welcome with an accompanying adult.


Concert: ‘Pacifism and Pierrot: Debussy in Bloomsbury’
Friday 22nd June 2018, 6-7.30pm in Colyer-Fergusson Hall, University of Kent

This concert springs from the recent discovery that Debussy’s children’s ballet La boîte à joujoux (‘The Toy Box’) was premiered by the Omega Workshops in 1915. The performance was part of a series of pacifist concerts fundraising for Belgian refugees who made up the orchestra; the ‘dancers’ were cardboard marionettes, designed and operated by Workshop members.

This concert of French song and piano music explores themes of pacifism, feminism and equality through music associated with the Omega Workshops and with Virginia Woolf. Rarely performed music by Germaine Tailleferre and Nadia Boulanger complements familiar favourites by Debussy and Poulenc. The programme culminates in La boîte à joujoux, accompanied in this performance by images. Performers: Lana Bode (piano) and Jennifer Witton (soprano).

A free drinks reception takes place in the interval.

The concert is preceded by a panel of talks introducing these works and music’s role in early twentieth-century pacifism (late afternoon, Woolf Lecture Theatre, University of Kent; free, all welcome). Speakers: Prof Christine Froula (Northwestern), Dr Charlotte de Mille (Courtauld Institute), Dr Emma Sutton (St Andrews).

Ticketing information to follow.

Presented by the Virginia Woolf & Music Project. For further information about our performers, see www.lanabode.com and jenniferwitton.co.uk