Visiting Artists

The Songs of John Harbison: Poetry & Music
featuring Visiting Artist Lynn Torgove, mezzo-soprano

Harbison-72Williams College will present a concert featuring Pulitzer Prize winning composer John Harbison and his musical settings of poetry on Wednesday, April 9 at 8 p.m. in Brooks-Rogers Recital Hall on the Williams College campus. The event is preceded by a panel discussion, which begins at 7 p.m.

The concert features the poetry of Williams’s own Jessica Fisher, assistant professor of English; Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Bishop; and Louise Glück, adjunct professor of English and Rosenkranz Writer-in-Residence at Yale University.

“During the concert, we’ll be in the presence of brilliant poetry, set beautifully by John Harbison, one of the masters of fitting language to music,” says John Limon, chair of the English department. John Harbison, Institute Professor at M.I.T., is the recipient of a MacArthur fellowship, the Pulitzer Prize, and the Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities.

Concert musicians include Lynn Torgove, mezzo-soprano; Gabriela Diaz on violin; David Russel on cello; Christopher Krueger on flute; Rane Moore on clarinet; Craig McNutt, percussion; and Judith Gordon on the piano.

Immediately preceding the concert, a panel discussion moderated by professor of music W. Anthony Sheppard and professor of poetry Lawrence Raab will engage Harbison, Glück, Fisher, and poet and Pulitzer Prize winning critic Lloyd Schwartz in a discussion about the process of setting poetry to music.

The week of the concert, the visiting artists will be working with students and faculty members. “Not only will the English and music departments be working together, we’ll be exploring each other’s terrain,” Limon says. “Students, faculty members, and artists will be in dialogue or polylogue for several days, exploring the problems and possibilities of putting two arts in intimate relation.”

Glück will visit Fisher’s classroom; Harbison and Schwartz, the Frederick S. Troy Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Boston, will meet with students in the English and music departments; and Harbison and Torgove will conduct classes with composition majors and performers in the music department.

“The relationship between words and music in song is a classic topic in the liberal arts and this event epitomizes exactly what makes Williams such an extraordinary place,” says Sheppard, the chair of the music department.

The event is sponsored by the W. Ford Schumann ’50 Performing Arts Endowment, the Class of 1960 Scholars Fund, and Williams College departments of English and music.