This weekend my husband and I attended a recital at Virginia Tech that was unusually refreshing in many ways and I want to share some thoughts about it with folks here with the hope that it might inspire others as well to think outside the box.
The recital was called "Poe-ism" and was comprised of chamber music based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe written for various combinations of soprano, piano, and cello. The musicians were Ariana Wyatt, soprano, Benjamin Wyatt, cello, and Tracy Cowden, on piano. They were joined for a couple of the works, by Patty Raun, who performed dramatic readings of several of the works on the program. The works on the program were Henry Leslie's "Annabelle Lee," Charles Loeffler's "To Helen", Arthur Reginald Little's "Ulalume," Deodat de Severac's, "Un Reve," Daron Hagen's "A Dream Within a Dream," George Crumb's "The Sleeper," Beverly Martin's, "Edgar Allan Poe Songs," and then the world premiere of a work that was commissioned for this event, "Spirits of the Dead," a set of 5 songs, by Gregory J. Hutter. Now I must admit that I have never been a big Poe fan so I wasn't quite sure how an entire recital of Poe-based pieces was going to work. But from the beginning of the recital, I could sense the performers committment so I stuck with a positive attitude. Then, early on in the program, they took the time to explain to the audience a bit of the history behind the recital and the process they went through in order to put it together which helped make me realize their complete investment at which point I was completely sold. Smart musicians, at least in my mind.
So some other things that I thought are important to note...the program notes were fantastic; they were well-written, easy to ready, and interesting. They also included the texts to all of the songs and readings even though most were in English anyway. I appreciate having the text there because I like to read the words several times to really mull over their meaning while I'm listening to the music. Also in the notes were a handful of images that had been procured from Virginia Tech's special collection's department. It was a nice touch and I know how much extra time those extra touches can take to make happen.
The audience turnout for this program was excellent, especially considering the unusually warm weather on Saturday night. It was interesting to see that the audience spanned several different communities in the Blacksburg area that don't typically mingle and that is thanks to the fact that the musical artists themselves decided to collaborate in spite of the divisions that seem to plague this small Virginian town. It just goes to show that music doesn't understand those types of boundaries. I think that it was also clever to base a recital on a literary figure because that in itself might help draw a few more people into the hall who might not usually attend a classical music concert. And having a faculty member from the drama department do dramatic readings would draw yet another crowd. Brilliant!
Well, I suppose that's all I can think of now to say about this recital, but congratulations to these colleagues for a wonderful night of music-making and more. It's the "more" that for me, is the important part. They created something unique on Saturday night that left me wanting more and for that I am very thankful.
For a link to the press release for this event, please click here