By Rachel M. Anderson, Contributing writer
(Twin Cities) – October 15, 2018
A Symphony of Rivals, (Calumet Editions, Aug. 2018, $29.99) is the second historical novel in a trilogy by Minnesota author
The protagonist, Alejandra Morrison, faces more than a battle of the sexes in her quest to become a symphonic conductor in a male dominated field. She’s also up against the upheaval in Europe in the years leading up to World War II. Alejandra travels to Germany in 1933 to pursue her musical studies in the birthplace of her heroes, Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms. And through her training, she follows the footsteps of Brico, Bülow, Mendelsohn, Strauss, Toscanini, and Verdi. “One of my passions is to highlight the contributions of many cultures through the arts. These are the arteries that run through all three novels,” said Calatayud-Stocks. “Music can inspire and serve as a catalyst for change.” Beethoven’s legacy was one of the main sources of inspiration. “Beyond Beethoven’s musical genius was his extraordinary love of humanity. In the novel, Beethoven’s spirit serves as a moral compass that contrasts against fascist ideologies during a disturbing time in history.”
The author hopes readers will have several takeaways after reading the story. “It’s was necessary to address the politics of the era and poignant issues confronted by many of the characters in the story. It is through conflict and crisis where we can measure the character of individuals, and where we hope to see the triumph of human virtues,” Calatayud-Stocks said. “Creative expression surpasses time and existence. Events and life happen, war and peace, and history is written. Art is what remains century after century.”
Since its release, the novel has been receiving rave reviews. “A Suspenseful bridge to the final volume to a historical fiction series. The novel raises stimulating questions regarding work life balance, and the entwinement of art and politics. The momentum accelerates with the emergence of more serious conflicts, leaving readers with a cliffhanger. And for culture enthusiasts, the author once again offers musical selections corresponding to each chapter,” Kirkus Reviews.
“Music had become a political instrument. The writing is good, exhibiting the kind of inspired genius shown by Alejandra Morrison. The strength of this story is in the bearing witness to the day-to-day process of personal experience whereby civilization loses its way. The overriding value of storytelling such as this is to force one to ask the question—Could it happen here in the United States?” Alan Goodman, the Internet Review of Books.
“A compelling story occurs right at this border between good and evil, between strength and weakness. And that is what makes Roma Calatayud-Stocks such an effective writer–especially in her latest book, A Symphony of Rivals,” Howard Lovy, the Alliance of Independent Authors.