Posted: April 15, 2009
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. Now he will celebrate both his music and his teaching in a special retirement concert Sunday, May 3, at 3 pm in Abbey Chapel.
Bonde, who first came to MHC in 1971, will perform a program of his own compositions, including the premiere of Te Deum Laudamus for women's chorus, brass quintet, and organ. He will be 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 will also include 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; he will perform the piece with his wife, Maria Bonde.
Bonde's life has been filled with music. By the age of six he was playing in polka bands in his native Wisconsin. After receiving a bachelor's degree in music at Lawrence University, he earned a master’s degree in music at Catholic University--and then the first doctorate in music awarded by the university. A prolific composer, he has been widely commissioned and recorded, and his compositions have been performed throughout the world by such notables as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic brass principals. As a pianist, he has performed in many venues, including Carnegie Recital Hall, the National Gallery of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Severance Chamber Hall.
"I like to say I've played everywhere from beer halls to Carnegie Hall," Bonde said with a laugh.
His 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.
Bonde's many honors include a Festival Casals Scholarship, a Yale Graduate Fellowship, and a fellowship at the Salzburg Seminar in American Studies. He was the first musician-in-residence at the Nanyang Technological University National Institute of Education in Singapore. In June 2003, the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra of the Czech Republic performed and recorded Bonde's Fantasia for Piano and Orchestra and Jubilate: A Festive Overture.
Although he will officially retire from teaching June 30, 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.
"I was born to be a musician; I will always be a musician," he said.
The concert is free, open to the public, and accessible to all. For more information, call 413-538-2306.