Songs of the Bill of Rights

As part of the City Bar’s Friday Evening Chamber Music series on December 10th, a soprano, baritone and pianist will perform City Bar member Nancy Volin Simon’s song cycle about the Bill of Rights.

“When was the last time you sat down and read the Bill of Rights? That’s why I wrote this song cycle—as a way to reacquaint people with the actual words of the Bill of Rights,” said Volin. “Music makes words and concepts easier to remember by giving them rhythmic and intervallic context, so it just made sense to compose music around such important text.”

Volin took care to remain faithful to the exact order of the words and placement of phrases and punctuation, and, for the most part, to follow the classical musical structures of the 18th Century. “The Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791, which is also the year Mozart died,” she said. “Thus, for example, two of the songs, Amendments 4 and 6, are in the form of mirror canons, where the theme and its counterpoint also appear in their inverted forms. Amendment 3 is a three-part fugue, and Amendment 8 is a canon. However, I also tried to keep the music sounding fresh and modern.”

Volin said the work “is intended as an entertainment that is hopefully educational as well. If it brings someone back to the actual language in a memorable way, then the music has done its job.” Most of all, Volin said, the project was fun to create, adding, “Perhaps I’ll try the tax code next.”

Also on the December 10th program will be performances of Schumann’s 1st Violin Sonata (Op. 105), performed by Itay Goren (piano) and Valeria Toth (violin), and arias and duets of Mozart and Handel performed by the Manhattan Showcase Project.

Friday Evening Chamber Music begins at 6:00 p.m. in the House of the Association’s reception hall on the second floor, at 42 West 44th Street. For more information, click here.