The mission of Words&Music, Inc. is to present exceptional performances of both traditional and newly commissioned compositions in the vocal chamber music repertoire. Our purpose is to bring beautiful music to the forefront while simultaneously giving equal attention to the wonderful poetry and prose that inspire each work. Our efforts include both educational and performance initiatives throughout our community.
Originally formed in 2006 with the goal of presenting Ned Rorem’s magnum opus for vocal quartet Evidence of Things Not Seen, Words&Music is delighted to be celebrating its 10th official season in 2019-2020 as a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Our mission is embedded in our name: to probe the dynamic and compelling unity of two “languages” —words AND music—in the versatile medium of a vocal chamber ensemble.
The spectrum of musical expressivity possible at a Words&Music performance can range from the intimacy of a solitary voice in an innovative salon concert, to a black box theatrical production, to the grandeur of a choral-symphonic collaboration. At the core of the group’s existence, however, there has been a constant: exploring the artistic potential of vocal chamber music and encouraging the creation of new vocal chamber music works through commissions and competitions.
Words&Music presents programs that are artistically interesting while also being socially relevant, featuring works by living composers. Our Love Americas Style program, built around Canadian composer John Greer’s Liebesleid-Lieder, explores music and poetry of the Western Hemisphere. In addition to the work by Greer (born 1954), music of Argentine composer Carlos Guastavino (1912-2000) and selections from The Great American Songbook are included in the program. In the Spring of 2018, Words&Music presented the Washington DC Area premiere of Lori Laitman’s Are Women People? This new work for vocal quartet and piano 4-hands was commissioned by Hanson Institute for American Music of the Eastman School of Music and the Susan B. Anthony Center for Women’s Leadership at the University of Rochester in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in New York State. Words&Music presented this work in our signature interactive format, featuring discussion between the audience, performers and composer. Star of the Morning, our seasonal program, is an annual favorite. While remaining true to the original concept of a “quiet hour”, this program of readings and seasonal music has expanded to encompass seasonal traditions from all major faith communities.
Commissioning new works has been a focus of the Words&Music agenda. From our inaugural composition competition in 2013-2014 to the commissioning of Chickasaw composer Jerod Tate to write Found Again in 2015-2016, we have found these opportunities to work collaboratively with living composers highly rewarding. These projects have been made possible through grant assistance from organizations including the Virginia Commission for the Arts/ ArtWorks and the Weissberg Foundation.
As part of our 10 Year Anniversary celebrations, Words&Music is looking forward to producing the official recording of Found Again in Spring 2020. Please visit our website for updates!