A new work by composer Samantha Boshnack – inspired by the life of daredevil, feminist, journalist and iconoclast Nellie Bly (1864 – 1922).
Sam Boshnack has taken on the next large scale project for her Quintet – a narrative work inspired by the life of 19th century investigative journalist Nellie Bly.
“Both as a young girl and today, Nellie Bly greatly inspires me,” says Sam. “A reporter at a time when women were not welcome into journalism, she was a fiery and persistent individual who worked within extreme confines to achieve great things for both the subjects she covered (including mental health and prison facilities), and for women in her field.”
Sam has created a work in four movements highlighting stages and elements of Bly’s personality and career:
“Early Years” establishing her voice – combining elements of punky irreverence, with a yearning to deeply understand the human experience and its unfairness
“Asylum Expose” exploring her extreme efforts to write about the atrocities of a mental asylum
The piece concludes with “Lasting Legacy” – an homage to Bly and the impact she made to those who came after her.
Sam combines exploration of Bly’s life with propulsion from her words, incorporating quotes and segments from her books as spoken and sung elements within the suite. In addition to the music-based work, Boshnack hopes this concert will be an opportunity to educate the public about the life of this impactful, yet mostly unknown, iconoclast.
72 Days – is based on Nellie Bly’s book Around the World in Seventy-Two Days, in which she set out on a race around the world to beat Jules Verne’s fictional record, while the whole world watched and cheered her on. The idea for this story was hers, but she had to fight hard to make it happen because her editors did not believe it could be done.
The two telling quotes I extracted from her book are – “It’s only a matter of 28,000 miles… I shall be back again” and “I would rather go in dead and successful than alive and behind time.”
Once again we see Nellie being unaffected by the immense task before her and with an absolute conviction that she would succeed. The two methods of transport available to her were railroad and steamship – I have incorporated the rhythmic elements of these modes into the music as well.
All pieces performed by The Sam Boshnack Quintet featuring Samantha Boshnack (trumpet/voice), Beth Fleenor (clarinets/voice), Dawn Clement (piano/keyboard/voice), Isaac Castillo (bass/voice) and Max Wood (drums)
Used by kind permission of Samantha Boshnack