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I and Silence

Women's Voices in American Song

BBC Music Magazine ★★★★★
Classical Source ★★★★


We are humbled to have had the privilege of curating, for our debut album, a programme of songs that explore mindfulness, personal transformation through adversity, and the journey to maintain a healthy mind and body in an increasingly busy, noisy and turbulent world.

We would like to thank the following individuals and organisations for their advice and support: Delphian, The Viola Tunnard Trust, Snape Maltings, University of St Andrews, The Virginia Woolf & Music Project, The Nicholas Boas Charitable Trust, Roger Vignoles, Andrew West, Marilyn Rees, Roger Wright, Dr Emma Sutton & Dr Lucy Walker.


‘Did I sing too loud?’ asked Emily Dickinson in 1861, in a poem set a century later by Aaron Copland.

The expectations of silence often placed on women, historically and politically, and music’s power to break through them, are the themes of this deeply personal recital by mezzo-soprano Marta Fontanals-Simmons and pianist Lana Bode.

Their programme reflects and channels the voices of female writers and musicians: Dickinson herself, Sara Teasdale and Virginia Woolf are among those whose words are set in the works brought together here, two of which – Dominick Argento’s From the Diary of Virginia Woolf and Peter Lieberson’s Rilke Songs – were written for great mezzo-sopranos of the recent past, Dame Janet Baker and Lorraine Hunt Lieberson.

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Following a successful performance of Dominick Argento From the Diary of Virginia Woolf as part of the 26th Annual Conference on Virginia Woolf at Leeds Trinity, Marta Fontanals-Simmons and Lana Bode developed a collaboration that has seen them perform at some of London's most prestigious venues, including the Purcell Room, Southbank Centre, St Martin in the Fields, St James's Piccadilly and the Wigmore Hall.

The duo have built on their mutual love of contemporary music with songs by Judith Weir, George Crumb, Andrew Norman & Peter Lieberson alongside core repertoire by Schubert, Debussy, Berg and Britten.

They are proud to have reached the semifinals in the 2017 Wigmore Hall International Song Competition. As a result of a performance residency on 'Atmospheric Programming' at Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, the duo embarked on a further year-long residency at the Britten-Pears Foundation, funded by the British Council. In this residency, the duo devised the ‘Listen Again’ project with workshops and devised concert-series at Britten's home, The Red House, exploring new programming ideas, the vocal recital tradition and the relationship between performer and audience.

As well as launching their debut album featuring songs by 20th-century American composers this summer, Marta and Lana will continue to give recitals throughout the UK in the 2019-20 season.


‘A remarkable exploration of “women’s voices in American song”’
- Paul Driver, The Sunday Times, 18 August 2019

‘…recommendable to anyone interested in the landscape of American art song.’
- David Patrick Stearns, Gramophone, September 2019

‘…impressive release….The plush tones of the singer allied to a searing musical intelligence perfectly match the unflinching honesty and seriousness of the verse…. Peter Lieberson’s complex Rilke Songs are sung with great authority and supported with due regard to weight and delicacy of the piano writing, both artists responding generously to the wandering melodic writing…. Fontanals-Simmons and Bode are fine advocates of this enigmatic repertoire.’
- David Truslove, Classical Source, August 2019

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