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.
Related event: ‘Engaging with Twentieth-century Pageants: Studying and Performing Historic British Drama’
17 June 2019, School of English, University of St Andrews
This one-day symposium brings together historians, literary critics, musicologists and archivists to discuss specific pageants and methodologies for their study. Topics include: Woolf’s novel about a pageant, Between the Acts; Dante, D.G. Rossetti and Charles Williams’ pageant-novels and pageant-plays; Auden; and T.S. Eliot’s pageant-play, The Rock. The symposium includes a free concert of readings and pageant music, including new arrangements of Martin Shaw’s rarely-heard music for The Rock.
A Modernist Revue
Chapel of King’s College, London
Friday 21 June 2019, 6.30–8.30 pm
In collaboration with the British Association of Modernist Studies Conference
Join us in the glorious 19th- century Chapel of King’s College London for an evening of music, dance and poetry. This ‘Modernist Revue’ will include the premiere of live artist Deborah Pearson’s rendition of Hope Mirrlees’s 1919 ‘Paris: A Poem’, music from Elena Langer’s critically acclaimed suffragette opera, Rhondda Rips it Up!, performed by singers from the Welsh National Opera, a response to the Ballets Russes from Isabella McGuire Mayes, music by Germaine Tailleferre and Claude Debussy performed by Lana Bode and Olivia Boen of the Virginia Woolf & Music project and a set from Amit Chaudhuri. The evening will be compèred by BBC Radio 4’s own Zeb Soanes.
Tickets are £10 and can be booked here
The Revue will be followed by a drinks reception generously funded by the Department of English, King’s College London. Organised by Clara Jones (KCL), Natasha Periyan (Kent) and Anna Snaith (KCL)
‘Debussy in Bloomsbury’
4 July 2019, Paul Mellon Centre, London, 6-8pm
Talk & Concert, Charlotte de Mille (speaker), Lana Bode (piano) and Jennifer Witton (narrator)
‘Debussy in Bloomsbury’ explores one of the Friday concerts at the Omega Workshop at 33 Fitzroy Square, encouraged by Roger Fry to raise funds for Belgian refugees following the outbreak of war in 1914. Although the details of these concerts are largely undocumented, these events nonetheless included some remarkable achievements including the premiere of Debussy’s children’s ballet La boîte à joujoux (‘The Toy Box’), written to a scenario by André Hellé.
The concert features the solo piano version of ‘La boîte à joujoux’, narrated and accompanied by Hellé’s original scenography. The performance is set in the context of Bloomsbury’s long-standing interest in Debussy, music and theatre by a pre-concert talk looking at the Omega Workshop’s original set designs and designs for children’s toys.