Vivian Montgomery 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 began her harpsichord teaching career at Vanderbilt University and has served as Director of the Jurow International Harpsichord Competition since 2009.
Recipient of First Distinction in the Warsaw International Harpsichord Competition, and Second Prize in the Jurow International Harpsichord Competition, Vivian’s performing life encompasses concerto solos, solo recitals, chamber music performances, and vocal accompanying work throughout the United States. As a fortepianist, she has been heard widely in recent performances of 19th-century 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). Vivian’s work on little-known piano music for domestic use, especially in Antebellum America, is exemplified by the 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 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, as co-director of the new baroque orchestra, Eudaimonia, A Purposeful Period Band. Vivian holds a post as a Resident Scholar at the Brandeis University Women’s Studies Research Center (brandeis.edu/wsrc/), where she is a founding member of the Women and Music Mix, an important vehicle for advocacy, concert presentation, and funding of female composers. In March of 2017, she was in England with the support of a Women’s Travel Fund award, touring historic venues with a concert program that features John Howell Morrison’s Jane’s History, performed by renowned soprano Catherine Bott, and recording newly discovered keyboard works by long-neglected women composers of the Georgian era.
As an avid writer of both scholarly articles and personal essay, Vivian is currently bridging the two realms with Finding the Space Between, 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. Vivian is also an accordion player, and can be heard as leader of the klezmer band Shir Chutzpa at Temple Shir Tikva in Wayland.
"Exquisite music-making...exceptional for its precision, blend and stylistic unity...sprightly and charming" Music in Cincinnati
“There are points when things that have seemed essentially different show themselves to be actually cut from the same cloth. I have arrived at those points of clarity as they pertain to some of the larger of life’s forces - love, loss, longing, prayer...I now find that I live a life as a musician where the harpsichord and accordion not only peacefully coexist, they substantially overlap in the role they play in my life. Pluck and swell remain seemingly at odds, yet I move into each with a fullness of bodily release and a richness of breath... I believe that anything can happen on either, and I try, sometimes successfully, to be entirely myself with each, following my curiosity, my sense of play, and my need to burrow into sound and gesture.
"I have had no shame, demonstrating through jetés run amok how the dancer jumps in the air and then lands softly with bent knees and how this is like the upward swing of the arms and the release of their weight into the key bed, with the arpeggiated spreading of notes in a chord being the bending of the knees..."
from Finding the Space Between: Writings on Living and Learning as a Harpsichordist
RESEARCH AND WRITING