In the nearly four decades Allen Bonde has been teaching at Mount Holyoke, he has shared his passion for music with--and inspired--thousands of students. On May 3, he celebrated both his music and his teaching in a special retirement concert in Abbey Chapel.
Bonde, who first came to MHC in 1971, performed a program of his own compositions, including the premiere of Te Deum Laudamus for women's chorus, brass quintet, and organ. He was joined by his daughter, soprano Mara Bonde '91, and the Mount Holyoke Glee Club, Chorale, and Chamber Singers, under the direction of Kimberly Dunn Adams, and organist Larry Schipull. The program included a special performance of Rose Window, a piece for four-hands piano Bonde wrote in 2001 for the dedication of the back-lighting of Abbey Chapel's Rose window which he performed with his wife, Maria Bonde.
Bonde’s artistic life has been just one facet of his passion, however; in the past 38 years he said he's learned, "Teaching is the art of discovery." He's tried to convey the pleasure of discovery to to his students, as well.
"I am continually cognizant that the order of musical notes in a composition simply reflects the flow of life: One note leads to the next--and to the next--until fulfillment is achieved. I want my students to sense that same revelation with joy and eager anticipation," he said.
Although he officially has retired from teaching , Bonde says it will be "a phased retirement." In addition to spending more time with his wife and their three children and grandchildren, he will continue to perform and compose.
Melinda Spratlan performed in two concerts this year designed to celebrate her 38 years of teaching and performing at Mount Holyoke. Her performance in October with the Mount Holyoke Baroque Ensemble was a reflection of her long-time interest in singing early music, having been a regular member of the Ensemble for over 20 years. She was also soprano soloist in many concerts of the choral ensembles when they performed large works from the Baroque era and she frequently included early music on her annual faculty recitals.
The second celebratory concert in March featured the première of "Four Songs for Soprano and Women's Chorus" by Lewisi Spratlan on poetry by Brad Leithauser. Mount Holyoke Chamber Singers performed with Melinda and Melinda noted that this was a tribute to all the times she was invited to appear on choral ensembles concerts. Sharing the stage with the students of Mount Holyoke was the perfect synthesis of her work with individual students of singing and the gratification and pleasure she has always felt when making music with others.