Internationally Acclaimed Composer Performs at UIW’s Diane Bennack Concert Hall

February 2, 2024

On Thursday, Feb. 1, the University of the Incarnate Word had the privilege of welcoming award-winning composer Andrea Clearfield. Clearfield has been nationally and internationally recognized for her musical work in opera, orchestra, chorus, chamber ensemble, dance and multimedia collaborations.

She previously visited UIW in February of 2022 for a joint performance of Tse Go La with the UIW Cardinal Singers and the San Antonio Chamber Singers. She returned this week to give a lecture on and perform her oratorio titled “Women of Valor,” which seeks to celebrate the women of the Old Testament.

Clearfield’s “Women of Valor” oratorio explores the stories of 10 of the 22 women present within the Old Testament: Sarah, Leah, Rachel, Jocheved, Miriam, Hannah, Jael, Michal, Ruth and Ester. The piece, which was originally written in the year 2000, was inspired by a book titled The Women of Valor by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz.

This illustrated book demonstrated the value of women in the Bible, and Clearfield wished to explore this further through her work. The relevant topics explored in these stories played a huge role in the 10 stories she chose to relay through her oratorio.

“Their stories can relate to our lives today and I tried to choose stories that were subjects that we're still grappling with like infidelity, slavery, infertility and all kinds of difficulties and issues that we still look at in our lives,” shared Clearfield.

Dr. Orit Eylon, professor in the UIW Department of Music, was beyond pleased to have Clearfield return to UIW to share her work with the community only days before leaving for an international residency in Europe.

“For the students, having an acclaimed and prolific composer in residence is an opportunity for them to learn about her, her compositional styles and how she was able to achieve such publicity for her works and have them performed all over the world,” Dr. Eylon shared.

Throughout her career, Clearfield has expressed her values of amplifying the voices of young composers, as well as building community around the arts. Those in the UIW Department of Music hold similar values as they also strive to find ways to be inclusive, expand diverse music opportunities, and expose students to various compositions that hold relevance to the world around us.

“I am excited for my students to hear oratorio, which is rarely performed here, as opposed to opera or other genres of music,” expressed Dr. Eylon ahead of the performance. “I hope the stories will feel relevant to everyone affected by current events in the world and educate on how music narrates a story, a mission and a purpose.”

The night was nothing less than spectacular as many attendees both from and beyond the UIW community came to listen to Clearfield and faculty from UIW and Alamo Community College perform the piece. It was undeniably an event which demonstrated how music can bring people together.