Sunday, October 21, 2012

Let us now praise famous songs, and those creative types who begat them

Chris and I attended the "American Tapestry" concert this afternoon at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Cheyenne. Our daughter was singing, as she's in the Laramie County Community College Collegiate and Cantorei choirs. She does both well. You're probably not surprised to hear a proud father say that.

Several of the selections were taken from the page -- poetry, to be specific. First came three selections from A.E. Housman's A Shropshire Lad. My accountant father gave me a copy of that book when I was still in high school. He thought it might be an encouragement to my budding poetic soul. It wasn't (I was more attuned to Jim Morrison back then), but it was still a nice gesture. Housman is still not my favorite, but his verse sounds great when set to music and sung by collegiate voices.

Robert Burns made an appearance as the Men's Ensemble sang "My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose." The men, all dressed in black suits, held a rose as they gathered around the piano and intoned Burns. Very nice.

The recessional song was "The Promise of the Living" from the opera The Tender Land. Music was composed by Aaron Copland with libretto by Horace Everett, a pseudonym for dancer and choreographer Erik Johns. Copland was inspired to write the opera after viewing the book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, with text by James Agee and photos by Walker Evans. The book arose from a 1936 magazine assignment Agee and Evans accepted in 1936. The goal was to document the lives of white sharecroppers in the South. The magazine article didn't pan out, but the book did, and is now one of those volumes studied for its trail-blazing blend of straight reportage, creative nonfiction, poetry and photos.  Another one of those interesting works of art to emerge from the Great Depression.

Fine concert today, and I'm looking forward to the next one. Thanks to talented  singers, and the wonderful teachers who trained them.

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