Literary Hook: ‘Music to My Eyes’ set for March 3 at Mendelssohn PAC

Last week, this column previewed a unique collaborative event, “Music to My Eyes.” This week, we will look more closely.

“Music to My Eyes” will be Friday, March 3, at the Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center, 415 N. Church St., 6 p.m., $15 adult, $10 students. This event helps kick off Women’s History Month in Rockford, and promises to be something new and different. It will combine visual art, spoken word, written word, choral music, soloists and instrumentalists all in one night.

Just yesterday, a 30-some friend of mine asked if there was anything to do in Rockford that didn’t involve going to a bar. Here is an interesting activity that fits the bill.

At 6 p.m., there will be a pre-concert lecture and reception. The reception itself will feature the art of well-known women artists associated with Womanspace Center: Dorothy Bock, Karen Gines, Elaine Hirschenberger, Cindy Hughes, Jasmina Javanovic, Cynthia Linnaberry, Sue Mount, Wanie Reeverts, Una Ryan, Barbara Santucci and Dee Spafford. The visual work plays off the lyrics and musical styles of women composers. In addition, Mendelssohn artists will perform works by women composers.

At 7:30 p.m., the festivities will move across the street to Second Congregational Church, where a concert will be given. Featured musicians include the following: Sister Mary Jane Wagner, director of music at the Cathedral of St. John in Milwaukee; Martha Dahlberg, soprano; Anne Maria Olson, piano; Katie Schulz, cello; and Womansong Chorale, directed by Dorothy Paige-Turner. Womansong has been under the direction of Turner for three years, and is known for its unique blend of contemporary and traditional music. In addition, Dorothy Bock will be reading a poem, “Theophane.”

The evening will conclude with a finale, which is the premiere of “Non Nobis Solum” (Not for Us Alone). I was privileged to be asked to write the lyric for this piece. The title was actually inspired by Abigail Pribbenow, for a commissioned poem. Pribbenow had read these words over the door of a Tudor house listed in an architectural book. Moved by these words, she originally asked me to compose a poem around those words.

Now, the same words have made their way into lyrics, a chant that is prelude, interlude and postlude to the evening’s finale.

World-renowned composer Donald Fraser has created the musical score for the entire finale. Soloists, instrumentalists and the chorale combine in this comprehensive lyrical composition.

The event is a collaboration with Womanspace, Mendelssohn Performing Arts, and is sponsored by Focus Financial Group. So mark your calendars for an evening celebrating women composers and visual arts. See you at “Music to My Eyes.”

Christine Swanberg is a local author and poet who has written several books of poetry and formerly wrote a column called “The Writer’s Garret” for this newspaper.

From the March 1-7, 2006, issue

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