I am the author of a historical novel about Wolfgang Mozart and Anna Storace, Vienna Nocturne (Random House, 2014, with translation rights sold to ten countries). As an editor I have worked with Lion’s Roar magazine, formerly the Shambhala Sun, to help produce a special issue for the 80th birthday of the Dalai Lama. For that issue, I located and obtained rights to historical photos of the Dalai Lama, coordinated other aspects of the magazine, and wrote a short biography of His Holiness, about which Pico Iyer wrote to my editor, Melvin McLeod, “I have to tell you that Vivien’s record of his life was the best, most reliable and instructive such I’ve read, a wonderfully clear and clean accounting of the facts as drawn from all the best sources.”
I am a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where I was an Iowa Arts Fellow, and a phi beta kappa graduate of Williams College, where I received Honors in English, Highest Honors in music, and the Hubbard Hutchinson Fellowship for creative writing. I received an Artist Diploma in opera singing from the Yale School of Music. Over the past few years I have traveled to fourteen European countries. In addition to literature and music, I am interested in psychology, environmental policy, neuroscience, human rights, Buddhist meditation, social history, human kinetics, and peak performance. My interest in social sciences led me recently to run a small replication study on the effect of chocolate scents on sales in a bookstore, with the help of two political scientists at Yale, Peter M. Aronow and Mary C. McGrath. Our paper on that study was recently published in Springer Plus.
For the website of Lion’s Roar, I wrote short blog posts on current events, and helped with social media. I also attended daily meetings strategizing how to build their web audience and convert that web audience to subscribers. Last year, I participated in a daylong workshop with Ladies Learning Code (WordPress for Beginners: Create Your Own Website), and, as an undergraduate at Williams College, I took a computer programming class with Duane Bailey, The Art and Science of Computer Graphics, for which I learned a simple programming language he had created to make images and short videos.
As a singer, I am represented by Barrett Vantage Artists, and currently moving from mezzo-soprano to soprano repertoire. At Yale, I performed the role of Romeo in Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi under the baton of Speranza Scappucci. Of my performance in The Rape of Lucretia with Yale Opera, Jeffrey Johnson of the Hartford Courant wrote, “Shotwell was filled with intensities and even sang her succession of low B-naturals in the second act like the ringing of a haunted bell.” Michael Miller of the Berkshire Review for the Arts called my voice “extremely attractive and extremely large,” and wrote of my concert performance of Dido and Aeneas: “Her vocal production, phrasing, and musicianship were impressive throughout, but she rose to a very high level in her final scenes, especially in Dido’s great ‘Lament,’ which could not have been more moving and musicianly.” In 2014-15 I sang as an alto soloist in Messiah with Symphony Nova Scotia.
Other roles include Béatrice and Ursule in Béatrice et Bénédict, Dido in Dido and Aeneas, the Third Lady in Die Zauberflöte, Public Opinion in Orpheus in the Underworld, A Woman in Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, and the title role of Giulio Cesare, which I performed on four occasions, on stage and in concert, most recently with the Arcadia Ensemble in Toronto and The New Opera in Williamstown, Massachusettes. My concert repertoire as a mezzo included Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder and Rückert-Lieder, Elgar’s Sea Pictures, Mozart’s Requiem, Handel’s Israel in Egypt, and Copland’s In the Beginning.
I have performed as a soloist with the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, the Chamber Singers of Iowa City, and Orchestra New England. I have received grants from Early Music America, the Nova Scotia Talent Trust, and the Canada Council for the Arts, and was the recipient of the 2013 Phyllis Curtin Career Entry Prize and the 2012 David L. Kasdon Memorial Prize from the Yale School of Music. I was twice a Regional Finalist (Upper Midwest and New England) in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and was a 2009-2010 member of Calgary Opera’s Emerging Artist Programme.
Photos by Marvin Moore (above) and Dylan Cross (below).