How Do I Love You (Thee)? by Lola Williams (C119)
Medium-High or High Voice and Piano
Lola Williams (née Lola Marler Rogers) was born in Yadkinville, NC, and raised in Durham, NC. As a child,
Lola sang in her church choir and took piano lessons, winning a gold medal in a local music competition. For
her twelfth birthday, she wished for a bicycle but received an Ivers & Pond piano instead; as an adult composer,
she came to appreciate this gift more fully.Williams completed a degree in English at Duke University in 1934
and accepted a position teaching music at Oak Grove School outside Durham.
Over the next four decades, she taught various combinations of music (including directing choruses), writing and
English literature at Calvert Method School (now Durham Academy), Carr Junior High and Durham High School.
Around the age of sixty, Williams retired and immersed herself in an intense study of the works of William
Shakespeare. She read plays, poetry and critical commentary extensively, and she traveled to Stratford-on-Avon
and London multiple times, including a research trip supported by the teachers’ sorority Alpha Delta Kappa. Williams
began to engage creatively with Shakespeare on many levels: she wrote critical essays and original verse, and she
began to compose art songs for one, two and three female voices. As a composer, Williams was almost entirely
self-taught. The closest she came to formal study was a few composition lessons with opera composer Michael Ching
during his own period of undergraduate studies with Williams’s friend Robert Ward (1917–2013) at Duke University.
Williams’s nearly two dozen art songs, primarily using Shakespearean texts, reveal a remarkable level of
sophistication. A few of these songs were performed in gatherings of the Friday Morning Music Study Club
and the Three Arts Club in Durham over the years, as well as in one public performance in 1981 as part of the
Duke University Summer Festival of Arts. Upon Williams’s death in 2013, three months shy of her hundredth
birthday, her son Derek began to look through the cardboard boxes of his mother’s compositions. He enlisted
the help of soprano Sarah Moulton Faux, a former student of his at Phillips Academy, Andover, who recognized
the value of Williams’s compositions. With the assistance of composer Amy Scurria, Ms. Faux and conductor
Ted Taylor pored over piles of handwritten manuscripts, recorded Where Should This Music Be? Songs of
Lola Williams (Sarah Moulton Faux, soprano, and Ted Taylor, piano; New World Records, 2019), and prepared
the scores for publication.