Dr Emma Sutton wins University of St Andrews Public Engagement with Research (Collaboration) Award 2018

We are pleased to announce that Dr Emma Sutton has won the University of St Andrews Public Engagement with Research (Collaboration) Award 2018 for her work as Founding Director of the Project.

The Virginia Woolf & Music project explores music’s role in the lives and afterlives of Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group through concerts, public talks, broadcasts, research and commissions of new works of art. Since our foundation in 2015 with an AHRC Cultural Engagement Grant we have collaborated with leading performers of classical music, theatre companies, composers, library reading groups and over 2000 school children. We have to date commissioned/premiered 5 new musical works and have showcased forgotten music by women composers admired by Bloomsbury members.

Music’s importance to the Bloomsbury Group has been eclipsed by interest in the role of visual art in their lives and work. This has masked music’s centrality to their politics (pacifism, feminism, cosmopolitanism) and artistic experiments. Recent project work has explored the forgotten premiere of Debussy’s children’s ballet The Toy Box by Bloomsbury artists during WW1; it was part of a pacifist concert series performed by and raising money for Belgian refugees. With partners from the Courtauld Institute and the Scottish Mask and Puppet Centre we have presented concerts (plus matinees, and newly commissioned marionette kits, story-boarded graphics and curriculum-based worksheets for children) about music and pacifism.

Composers Schwartz and Thurlow on New Music to be Premiered on Thursday

This Thursday, 3 November 2016, premieres of two new pieces by composers Elliott Schwartz and Jeremy Thurlow will take place at Robinson College Chapel, Cambridge. The pieces will be performed by the Kreutzer Quartet in a programme entitled Weaving Threads, the third in a series of concerts organised by Virginia Woolf & Music.
Elliott Schwartz reflects on his piece:

My String Quartet No.3: Portrait is, literally, a “portrait” of my late wife Dorothy, known to all as Deedee. It was composed for our good friend Peter Sheppard Skaerved and the Kreutzer Quartet.

I regard the work as a tribute to Deedee’s remarkably multi-faceted life, a look back at her rich artistic career, a response to her sudden death (after only a brief illness) in 2014, and a celebration of her wide-ranging musical tastes. Regarding the latter: I have embedded a number of quotes within the quartet’s texture. These include passages from the Western musical canon (works that she was particularly fond of), and compositions of my own that held special meaning for her. I’ve also based much of my thematic material on musical spellings of her name and mine.

Finally, three composer colleagues, on learning of Deedee’s death, were kind enough to write pieces in her memory. I’ve incorporated fragments of their memorial works into my quartet’s fabric.

Jeremy Thurlow’s piece, entitled Memory is the seamstress, was commissioned by Virginia Woolf & Music specifically for performance in the Weaving Threads concert. Jeremy says:

Written specially for the Kreutzer Quartet and commissioned for this concert, my quartet comprises six short movements in contrasting moods. I took as my jumping-off point a marvellous passage from Orlando (1928):

Nature, who has played so many queer tricks upon us, making us so unequally of clay and diamonds, of rainbow and granite, and stuffed them into a case, nature, who delights in muddle and mystery, so that even now we know not why we go upstairs, or why we come down again, our most daily movements are like the passage of a ship on an unknown sea, and the sailors at the mast-head ask, pointing their glasses to the horizon: Is there land or is there none? to which, if we are prophets, we make answer “Yes”; if we are truthful we say “No”; nature, who has so much to answer for besides the perhaps unwieldy length of this sentence, has further complicated her task and added to our confusion by providing not only a perfect ragbag of odds and ends within us—but has contrived that the whole assortment shall be lightly stitched together by a single thread. Memory is the seamstress, and a capricious one at that. Memory runs her needle in and out, up and down, hither and thither. We know not what comes next, or what follows after. Thus, the most ordinary movement in the world, such as sitting down at a table and pulling the inkstand towards one, may agitate a thousand odd, disconnected fragments, now bright, now dim, hanging and bobbing and dipping and flaunting, like the underlinen of a family of fourteen on a line in a gale of wind. Instead of being a single, downright, bluff piece of work of which no man need feel ashamed, our commonest deeds are set about with a fluttering and flickering of wings, a rising and falling of lights.

The concert begins at 7.45pm at Robinson College Chapel, Cambridge. Tickets are available on the door or online, £15/£13/£5.

Box Office: http://www.cambridgelivetrust.co.uk/tickets/events/weaving-threads-virginia-woolf-string-quartets

World premiere of new music inspired by Virginia Woolf takes place in Cambridge in November

The third concert of the ‘Virginia Woolf & Music’ project takes place on November 3rd at 7.45pm in Robinson College Chapel, Cambridge. Performed by the renowned Kreutzer Quartet, the concert explores Woolf’s interest in string quartets and features new work inspired by her writing. The concert includes work by Beethoven, by the South-African British composer Priaulx Rainier, and Mozart’s arrangement of a Bach fugue for string quartet. Two world premieres are featured: Jeremy Thurlow’s Memory is the seamstress and Elliott Schwartz’s Quartet No. 3: Portrait..

Tickets: http://www.cambridgelivetrust.co.uk/tickets/events/weaving-threads-virginia-woolf-string-quartets

Pre-concert Talk: We are sorry to announce that the pre-concert talk has had to be postponed due to extenuating circumstances. Please visit this page again in the coming weeks for further details.

Concert: ‘Weaving Threads: Virginia Woolf & String Quartets’  Thursday 3 November 2016, 7.45 pm, Robinson College Chapel, Cambridge.

Kreutzer Quartet

Kreutzer Quartet publicity photo

Peter Sheppard Skærved, Mihailo Trandafilovski – Violins
Clifton Harrison – Viola
Neil Heyde – Cello

The Kreutzer Quartet are the dedicatees of hundreds of new works: this year alone alone they will present new works by composers including Robert Saxton, Laurie Bamon, Elliott Schwartz, Peter Dickinson, Roger Redgate, Robin Holloway, Jeremy Dale Roberts, Gary Carpenter, David Matthews, Paul Pellay and Rosalind Page, to name just a few. They have just returned from a tour in China, playing many of the works written for them. The Kreutzers have an extensive and critically acclaimed discography, on Toccata Classics, Metier, Naxos, Chandos, Guild and other labels. The quartet are resident ensemble at Wilton’s Music Hall, London.

Concert Livestream Update

The concert ‘Virginia: A Musical Portrait’, featuring three world premieres setting her work, takes place on Friday 17 June 2016 at 8pm at the Clothworkers’ Centenary Concert Hall, Leeds (UK). The concert focuses on settings of Woolf’s letters and diaries, and includes new song cycles by Richard Barnard and Jan-Willem Van Herpen, a new song by Jeremy Thurlow, and Dominick Argento’s song cycle ‘From the Diary of Virginia Woolf’. It will be streamed live at