In the midst of greatness: composer-conductor Victoria Bond (photo: Daniel Gonzalez; collage: Mark Gresham)

Audio Q&A: Victoria Bond discusses Presidential inspirations for her new “Soul of a Nation” album

John Lemley | 15 FEB 2021 — PRESIDENTS’ DAY*

Just in time for President’s Day, Soul of a Nation: Portraits of Presidential Character the latest album of works from composer Victoria Bond has been released by Albany Records (Troy1723).

In the four new concertos on this album, Bond honors some of America’s greatest leaders: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Bond recently joined EarRelevant’s John Lemley in a long distance chat about Soul of a Nation. we offer for your consideration the following audio Q&A drawn from that conversation.

Inspired in part by Aaron Copland’s great A Lincoln Potrait, which Bond has herself conducted many times, the four works presented on the album feature spoken libretti by Dr. Myles Lee, but differ from Copland;s model in that they are l concertos, performed by soloists drawn from the Chicago and Milwaukee Symphony Orchestras.

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In each of these compositions, Bond incorporates musical quotations drawn from the time and life of the US president being portrayed. Pater Patriae uses fife and drum tunes from George Washington’s time; The Indispensable Man features big band music from the era of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency; Soul of a Nation includes music by Corelli that Thomas Jefferson kept in his personal library; and The Crowded Hours weaves in popular melodies from Theodore Roosevelt’s time, such as “Take Me Out To the Ball Game.”

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In the words of Dr. Lee, “Each piece focuses on a single aspect of each man’s character – Washington’s moral clarity and prescience; Jefferson as a reluctant warrior; Theodore Roosevelt’s exuberant, ultimately destructive, drive; and Franklin Roosevelt’s indomitable courage – to illustrate not just their accomplishments, but the inner turmoil each man faced on his journey to immortality.” ■

► Learn more about Victoria Bond at:

*Editor’s note: “Presidents’ Day” is a colloquial name for the national holiday officially known as “Washington’s Birthday” even though its observance on third Monday of February never falls upon actual date of Washington’s birth, February 22 by the Gregorian calendar, nor his birthday under the old Julian calendar (February 11) which was still in use in the American Colonies when he was born.

Mark Gresham contributed to the text for this article.

John LemleyJohn Lemley is an Atlanta-based host and producer who has been a mainstay of the city’s media scene for over 20 years, first as an on-air host and producer at 90.1 WABE, then as host and producer of John Lemley’s City Café on 1690 WLMB. John currently serves as an investigative reporter for Nancy Grace’s Sirius XM radio program, Crime Stories.