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date: 22 August 2019

Speach, Bernadettelocked

  • Kyle Gann

Extract

(b Syracuse, NY, Jan 1, 1948). American composer. She was a nun of the sisters of St Joseph of Corondelet from 1966 to 1977. After graduating from the College of St Rose, she taught music at parochial schools. She later studied at Columbia University with Roussakis and in Siena with Donatoni (1976). After leaving holy orders she studied with Morton Feldman and Lejaren Hiller at SUNY, Buffalo (DMA 1983). In 1984 she married Jeffrey Schanzer, a composer and jazz musician, and moved to New York. She has served as an arts administrator at both the Composers Forum (director, 1988–90; president of the board, 1990–94) and the Kitchen (director, 1995–).

Speach’s music can be described as a smooth fusion of two disparate influences, Feldman and jazz. From the former she inherited a tendency towards sensitively balanced, non-contrasting sonorities; from the latter she took a frequent use of improvisation, often limited to specific pitch fields and quietly hidden, but sometimes overt and based in the vernacular. ...

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