Composer Sheila Silver has always been drawn to stories about powerful women like Edna St. Vincent Millay.

"I mostly write about women," Silver said. "Edna picked me, it just happened. I really identified with her sense of feminism, her sense of freedom -- she was the most successful American poet living in her day."

Though she has been immersed in Millay's life and writings since the spring of 2011, Silver is now ready to embark on a new project centered on dynamic women's voices. She is a 2013 recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and will travel to India with her husband and son to work on a new opera, "A Thousand Splendid Suns," based on the novel of the same name by Khaled Hosseini.

Telling an epic multi-generational story about two women's lives in Afghanistan, the novel's subject matter had a visceral impact on Silver.

"I'm going to be looking at Hindu-sounding music which is at the core of Afghan music," Silver said. "I need to go to India to color my Western musical voice, and tell these women's stories."


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