Arts & Humanities

Music Prof Wins Award For Opera Based on WWI

Project gives voice to women affected by the Great War.

By Anna Mann | April 9, 2020

Visiting Assistant Professor Kirsten Volness has won a grant from OPERA America for her project titled Letters That You Will Not Get: Women's Voices from the Great War.

Letters That You Will Not Get gives voice to women affected by WWI through a series of vignettes that share their responses to the war — from enthusiasm to resignation; support to opposition; the war’s beginning to its end. Combining haunting melodies evocative of the past, contemporary rhythms of the present and women’s writings from both sides of the conflict, Letters tells the story of the Great War as experienced by the women who lived through it. The librettists for the work are Susan Werbe and Kate Holland.

Prof. Volness is an electro-acoustic composer and pianist whose music is inspired by nature, myth, science, and environmental and sociopolitical issues. She has received commissions from the BMI Foundation, ASCAP/SEAMUS, NOW Ensemble, Transient Canvas and Experiential Orchestra. She performs with Verdant Vibes, a new music collective she co-founded in 2015, and with the homeless advocacy group Tenderloin Opera Company. 

The Discovery Opera Grants for Female Composers promote the development of new works by women and raise the visibility of women writing operas. Seven composers won a total of $100,000 to support development activities of theatrical works for the trained voice and instrumental ensemble.

At Reed, Prof. Volness teaches courses in electroacoustic music, composition, creativity, and music theory.

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