MusicIC returns for its twelfth season with programming that commemorates the 125th anniversary of Johannes Brahms’ death and the 100th anniversary of composer George Walker’s birth.
The festival, presented by the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature organization, is highlighted by a free June 17 concert that features Walker’s Lilacs for Soprano and Piano (originally for orchestra), which was unanimously awarded the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for music, the first to be awarded to an African-American composer. The concert is at 7:30 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church in Iowa City.
Walker’s Lilacs sets to music Walt Whitman’s 1865 poem, “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d,” which was written as an elegy to President Abraham Lincoln after his death on April 15, 1865. Walker’s composition was premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Faye Robinson on Feb. 1, 1996. Joining MusicIC as a guest lecturer will be Ed Folsom, prominent Whitman scholar and Roy J. Carver Professor of English at the University of Iowa. Folsom will lead a lecture discussion in Meeting Room A of the Iowa City Public Library at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 16, focusing on Whitman’s poem and why musicians continue to set his poetry to music.
Centering on themes of death, grief, and the “ever-returning spring” of hope and new beginnings, lilacs permeate the remainder of the program with continued references in Brahms’ Violin Sonata No. 2 and Sonatensatz in C minor; and complementary vocal pieces die Mainacht, wie Melodien zieht es mir, Feldeinsamkeit, Meine Liebe ist grün, and Auf dem Kirchhofe; as well as Rachmaninoff’s Lilacs for solo piano. The concert will feature violinist Tricia Park, pianist Dominic Cheli, and soprano Faylotte Joy Crayton.
On June 18, MusicIC will return to the Iowa City Public Library to perform its always popular family concert, featuring a program of musical storytelling for kids of all ages. MusicIC’s Artistic Director, violinist Tricia Park, and vocalist Meagan Amelia Brus, who also serves as the festival’s Managing Director, will join pianist Dominic Cheli to perform Debussy’s Clair de Lune, Copland’s Hoe-Down from Rodeo for violin and piano, and Alan Ridout’s Ferdinand the Bull, in partnership with the Iowa City Public Library children’s department.
Both concerts and Folsom’s lecture will be free and open to the public, and will be recorded by City Channel 4 and the Library Channel for later viewing.