Women in Early Music; Antebellum American Musical Culture; Historical Performance Practice
D.M.A., Case Western Reserve University
M.M., University of Michigan
B.Mus., University of Michigan
Curriculum Vitae (pdf)
Vivian Montgomery, DMA, is an award-winning harpsichordist and fortepianist on the Early Music Faculty of the Longy School of Music of Bard College. A 2014 Fulbright Senior Research Scholar (UK), and a recipient of a Solo Recitalist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, she has been praised for her "…exquisite music-making...exceptional for its precision, blend and stylistic unity...sprightly and charming" (Music in Cincinnati) whose “…gestures flowed like harmonious rivulets, building into swift cascades, and even torrents...grabbing the listeners with its ebb and flow” (Boston Musical Intelligencer). As a faculty member at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Vivian taught early keyboards and historical performance from 2003 through 2013. Having earned her Masters in Early Keyboards from the University of Michigan and the DMA in Early Music from Case Western Reserve University, she has served as Director of the Jurow International Harpsichord Competition since 2009.
Recipient of First Distinction in the Warsaw International Harpsichord Competition, among other competition prizes, Vivian’s performing life encompasses concerto solos, solo recitals, chamber music performances, and vocal accompanying work throughout the United States. She has been heard widely in recent performances of 19th-century American and women’s music, well represented on her new CD release Reviving Song: Spirited Works by Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, Hélene Montgeroult, and Louis Spohr (Women and Music Project, Brandeis University WSRC), recorded with singer Pamela Dellal and period clarinetist Diane Heffner. Vivian’s work on little-known piano music for domestic use, especially in Antebellum America, is exemplified by the upcoming Centaur Records release entitled Brilliant Variations on Sentimental Songs. While building on collaborations as half of the period instruments duo Adastra (adastra.vivianmontgomery.org/site/) and the dynamic Galhano/Montgomery Duo, Vivian has ardently explored the musical lives of women from 1500 to 1900, especially through two decades of cross-disciplinary work with her ensemble, Cecilia’s Circle (ccircle.org). Recordings of music by Elisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre (2005) and Barbara Strozzi (upcoming) by the group are on the Centaur label, and other recordings by Vivian can be found on 10,000 Lakes (Schubert Club) and Innova labels.
Vivian’s work as a conductor has led to engagements directing baroque opera, orchestras, and choirs in Minneapolis (Ex Machina Antique Music Theatre Company and the University of Minnesota), Cleveland (CWRU/CIM Baroque Orchestra and Early Music Singers), Pennsylvania (Dickinson College Collegium), and in her current residence, Boston. Vivian holds a post as a Resident Scholar at the Brandeis University Women’s Studies Research Center (brandeis.edu/wsrc/), where she is a founder and co-chair of the Women and Music Mix, an important vehicle for advocacy, concert presentation, and funding of female composers.
As an avid writer of both scholarly articles and personal essay, Vivian is currently bridging the two realms with a collection of pieces on harpsichord playing, teaching, and repertoire, drawing upon a wide array of life experiences, physical/spiritual practices, and vocabulary surrounding expression, movement, and deep listening, honed through years of communicating her ideas to students, colleagues, and audience. Vivian is also an accordion player, and can be heard with her clarinetist son Ezra Morrison as leaders of the Shabbat band Shir Chutzpa at Temple Shir Tikva in Wayland. They live in Medford with Vivian’s husband (Ezra’s father) John Howell Morrison, composer and Longy faculty member.
I am preparing a book and CD entitled Brilliant Variations on Sentimental Songs: Slipping Pianistic Virtuosity and Invention into the Antebellum Drawing Room. Piano variations on popular songs were embraced by lady performers and composers in nineteenth-century American domestic settings. Examination shows the genre’s unique place in shaping female cultural values, and promoting musical accomplishment.
Montgomery, Vivian. “Thy Hand Hast Done All This: Music of Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de La Guerre” (Cecilia’s Circle, Centaur Records).
Montgomery, Vivian. “Songs in the Ground: Variations and Other Renewable Notions for Recorder and Harpsichord” (Galhano/Montgomery Duo, Ten Thousand Lakes Records).