Speach, Bernadette (Marie)

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Speach, Bernadette (Marie)

Speach, Bernadette (Marie), accomplished American composer, pianist, administrator, presenter, and teacher; b. Syracuse, N.Y., Jan. 1, 1948. She studied piano as a child and at the age of 18 entered the order of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Corondelet, serving as a nun until 1977. She was educated at the Coll. of Saint Rose in Albany, N.Y. (B.S. in music education, 1971), then taught music at parochial schools and composed music, including religious pieces and folk songs for voice and guitar. In 1977 she left the order and entered Columbia Univ., meeting Morton Feldman while on a summer session in Siena, Italy. She then transferred to the State Univ. of N.Y. at Buffalo for composition studies with him as well as with Lejaren Hiller (M.A., 1977; Ph.D., 1979). She also married the jazz guitarist and politically motivated composer Jeffrey Schanzer, with whom she moved to N.Y. in 1984, becoming active as a new music administrator and presenter at such venues as the Alternative Museum (1987–93), Lotus Fine Arts, Inc. (1994), Composers’ Forum, Inc. (from 1995), The Kitchen (1998), and the Electronic Music Foundation’s new laboratory and performance space, Engine 27 (from 1999). She also lectured widely, and taught at the New School (1994–98). In 1993 she was artist-in-residence with the Minneapolis-based new music ensemble Zeitgeist, and in 1994 with the American Composers Orch. in N.Y. From 1996 she served on the board of the American Music Center. Speach is an accomplished composer whose works span virtually all genres; much of her work has involved jazz elements and improvisation. She has received awards from the NEA (1992), the N.Y. State Council on the Arts (1992), Arts Midwest/Meet the Composer Residency Support Grant (1993), and the N.Y. Foundation for the Arts (1998–99), among others. Among her recordings are a collection of chamber pieces on Without Borders (1989) and a collection of improvised solos and duets on Dualities (1992).


DRAMATIC: Dance: Bone, Burned, Abandon/Creak (N.Y., June 1, 1990; in collaboration with David Alan Harris); Almost Tadzio/Overbite Alarm (N.Y., Feb. 7, 1991; in collaboration with David Alan Harris); Baobab 4 for Flute, Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Trombone, Acoustic and Electric Guitar, Bass, 2 Pianos, Balafon, Reciter, 3 Women’s Voices, and Dancer (N.Y., April 9, 1994). Incidental Music To: A Clearing in the Woods by Arthur Laurents for Piano, Flute, and Tape (Mattituck, Long Island, N.Y., March 23, 1979). Music Theater: Gertrude (Buffalo, N.Y., June 15, 1984); Light Rail for Subway Track (N.Y., Nov. 15, 1985). ORCH.: Within for Piano and Orch. (N.Y., Feb. 15, 1990); Parallel Windows—Unframed for Piano and Orch. (1996; N.Y., March 20, 1997). CHAMBER: Wind Trio for Flute, Clarinet, and Bassoon (N.Y., May 5, 1977); Ode to Thelonius for Flute, Alto Flute, Oboe, English Horn, Trumpet, Horn, Viola, Cello, Prepared Piano, and Percussion (1978–79; first complete perf., Buffalo, N.Y., May 1, 1979); A Set of Two for Cello (1982; Buffalo, N.Y., April 11, 1984); Moto for Trombone, Piano, and Percussion (1982; N.Y., April 12, 1983); Pentamenta for String Quartet (1982; Buffalo, N.Y., March 13, 1988); Echange for Guitar, Piano, and Percussionist (1982; Buffalo, Oct. 28, 1983); Onde for Flute and Percussion (1983; Rye, N.Y., Sept. 20, 1984); Quatri for Percussion Quartet (1983; Buffalo, N.Y., April 27, 1984); Trajet for Trombone and Percussion (Buffalo, N.Y., Nov. 13, 1983); Pensees I, II, & III for Guitar (Buffalo, Dec. 4, 1983); Between the Lines for Violin, Piano, and Percussion (Buffalo, N.Y., April 9, 1984); Streamline for Leroys Jenkins’ Sting (N.Y., Jan. 26, 1986); Spero for Guitar (N.Y., Oct. 17, 1986); Shattered Glass for Percussion (N.Y., Oct. 17, 1986); Les Ondes Pour Quatre for String Quartet (Darmstadt, Aug. 7, 1988); Improvisations for Piano and Guitar (1986–99); Boppin’ Again for Chamber/Jazz Ensemble (N.Y., Feb. 3, 1989; also for 10-piece Ensemble, N.Y., May 24, 1991); Chosen Voices for Toy Piano and Prepared Guitar (N.Y., June 8, 1991); Trio des trois I for Violin, Piano, and Percussion (1991; N.Y., Feb. 19, 1993), II for Flute, Harp, and Viola (1991; N.Y., Dec. 9, 1994), and III for Piano, Viola, and Cello (1992; New Britain, Conn., April 28, 1993); Walking Again for Piano, Flute, Bass, and Traps (N.Y., April 15, 1993; also for Piano, 1992); Avanzando for Bass Clarinet, Piano, Marimba, Vibraphone, and Glockenspiel (Minneapolis, Nov. 4, 1993); From Death Row, This Is Mumia Abu-Jamal for Piano, 3 Percussionists, and Tape (N.Y., Nov. 16, 1996); Le Donne for Chamber Ensemble (N.Y., Feb. 19, 1998). P i a n o: des Sondages (1981–82; Nos. I-III, Buffalo, Oct. 27, 1981; No. IV, Buffalo, April 17, 1983); Unfitted (Buffalo, N.Y., Dec. 5, 1982); To Tango or Not (N.Y., Feb. 27, 1986); Sonata (N.Y., June 4, 1986); Inside Out (N.Y., Oct. 18, 1987); a page upon which…(N.Y., Sept. 23, 1989); Resoundings for Piano, 4-Hands (N.Y., Dec. 13, 1990); and so it is…(N.Y., Dec. 13, 1990); Walking Again (N.Y., Feb. 2, 1992; also for Piano, Flute, Bass, and Traps, 1993); Angels in the Snow (N.Y., Dec. 9, 1993); When It Rains, Llueve (1995; N.Y., Feb. 1, 1996). VOCAL: Lost for Flute, Horn, Mezzo-soprano, Viola, and Double Bass, after H. Hesse (Siena, Aug. 20, 1976); Sono I & II for Soprano, Flute, Clarinets, Alto Saxophone, Trombone, and Percussion, after Liv Ullmann (1981–82; first complete perf., Buffalo, N.Y., April 2, 1982); It Came to Me in a Dream, in counterpoint with Ash Wednesday, for Flute, Alto Flute, Guitar, Piano, and Baritone, after T.S. Eliot (N.Y., Sept. 15, 1990); Telepathy Suite for Reciter and 20- piece Ensemble (N.Y., March 18, 1988; in collaboration with Thulani Davis); A Set of Five for Reciter and Chamber Ensemble (N.Y., Jan. 11, 1989; in collaboration with Thulani Davis); Complaints for Speaker, Flute, Bass, Vibraphone, and Traps (N.Y., April 15, 1993); Woman Without Adornment for Reciter and Piano (N.Y., Dec. 21, 1994; in collaboration with Thulani Davis; also for Reciter and Chamber Ensemble, N.Y., March 29, 1995); Anne for 2 Sopranos, Baritone, String Quartet, and Clarinet (N.Y., Feb. 19, 1998). ELECTRONICS, SAMPLERS, AND/OR TAPE: “I Think We Are Small Enough” for Tape (Buffalo, May 1, 1979); 9/9/89 for Digital Sampler and Tape (Troy, N.Y., March 27, 1990).

—Laura Kuhn/Dennis Mclntire