THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY:
Answers to this question from an interview by Billy Watkins from the Clarion Ledger Newspaper: June 18, 2011
Q: What are your earliest music memories?
A: My mother played recorded classical music every Sunday, which exposed me to various musical styles, but waltzes were my favorite.
Q: What appealed to you about orchestral music?
A: The music from composers around the world, the abundance of sounds, counter melodies, and when the main melody is repeated and performed by varying sections of the orchestra, giving the musical motif of the composition a different arrangement and emotion.
Q: Will you tell us about your book and where the idea came from?
A: It is about the life of Alejandra "Ale" Stanford who's born into a bi cultural family in Minneapolis in 1902. As a young pianist and budding composer, she resolves to become a conductor despite the obstacles. She will travel to the great cities of the world in pursuit of her goals.
The idea for the story was born in 2002 when I was producing a concert for the Minnesota Orchestra Volunteer Association. As the creator and artistic director, I selected the composers and the musical program. Then, it became clear to me what a privilege it would be to be a conductor and interpret the music of legendary composers.
In the early 1900s most of the musicians and all conductors were men. I thought "what if a young woman's dreams of being a conductor is at the core of the narrative?" That was a story that had not been told.
Q: This is historical fiction. How much of it is true?
A: Most everything around the characters' lives is true, from the debut of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, to World War I, to the Roaring Twenties.
All of the pioneers, composers, conductors, artists, dates, places and institutions are also real. What is most surprising and interesting is how the true historic time line fell almost perfectly with the fictional storyline.
Q: What is the message you want to convey?
A: It was important for the novel to be entertaining, yet written within a compelling period in history that people would enjoy.
A Song in My Heart highlights the contributions of many cultures and dozens of institutions, individuals, artists and composers from the U.S. and other countries through music and the arts.
I also wanted to convey music's relevance in our lives. And while there may be challenges in a person's life, anything is possible with conviction and determination, regardless of the odds.
The protagonist Alejandra "Ale" Stanford who faces many of life's challenges, is herself a virtuoso pianist and budding composer. The original soundtrack that accompanies the narrative serves to provide the protagonist's own creative and emotional expressions through music during pivotal times in her life.
A Song in My Heart is book one of a trilogy, and I look forward to completing the second book "Striking the Right Note" which begins in 1933, Berlin, Germany.
A Song in My Heart, A Historical Novel, Including CD with Original Musical Score written and composed by Roma Calatayud-Stocks. The musical score, with fourteen songs and instrumentals with classical, jazz, and Latin influences, to A Song in My Heart was composed by Roma Calatayud-Stocks and arranged and performed by Chan Poling and other excellent musicians who are listed in the book.
On a personal note, Roma serves as a trained volunteer docent at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Walker Art Center, and also volunteers for Minnesota’s Vocal Essence’s Cantaré Program and MacPhail Center for Music.