SAXTONS RIVER >>Composer Carol Wood, together with her husband, the award-winning poet and author John Wood, will be presenting "Songs of Love and Time," an evening of original music and poetry to benefit Main Street Arts on Sunday, at 5:30 p.m. Admission is by donation. The evening will feature John Wood reading his poems, and Carol Wood's original compositions for harp, flute and voice. Kristen Carmichael-Bowers will sing, assisted by flautist Cassandra Willette.
Saxtons River resident Carol Wood is a harpist, composer, and Professor Emerita of Medieval Literature at McNeese University in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Mrs. Wood is known for her creative musical interpretations of classic poetry. Music Critic Jim Lowe has praised her musical craftsmanship and the "daring delicate" quality of her art songs.
As a composer Wood is dedicated to increasing the repertoire of the Celtic, or lever, harp. She has published over a dozen collections of music for harp, voice, and other instruments, including her best-selling "Chaucer Songbook," her holiday music "The Beasts of Bethlehem," and her collection of art songs, "Songs for Married Lovers." She has given recitals in Europe and across the U.S.
Here in Vermont her "Saxtons River Suite," a work for choir, harp, cello, flute, and violin, was recently premiered at Main Street Arts by an ensemble from the Vermont Symphony Orchestra and by Counterpoint Chorus, Vermont's professional choral ensemble. At present, Counterpoint is performing a selection from the Suite as part of their statewide tour.
"Songs of Love and Time" will feature musical compositions based on works ranging from ancient pieces by Sappho and Apollinaire, to classic poems by the likes of Thomas Hardy, and e.e. cummings. There will also be music based on the works of several contemporary poets--Amy Fleury, Liz Rosenberg, and, of course, John Wood.
The Southern Review has called John Wood "The most lucid and engaging of the postmodern southern poets." The Laurel Review said, "With Wood, as with Bach, the secular is often more sacred than not. [His] language gets up and sings we are moved progressively toward joy."
John Wood is the author of nine books of poetry, three of which were national or international prize winners. Before he retired in 2006 and moved with his wife to Saxtons River, he directed the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing at McNeese. Many of his students from that program have gone on to win significant literary recognition including Stanton Fellowships, the National Book Award, and the Pulitzer Prize. Wood is also a respected photo-historian and art critic. He has written many books and innumerable essays on various photographers and painters. Wood curated photo exhibitions at the Smithsonian institution, and he has lectured at Harvard, Vassar, and elsewhere on art and photography.
Main Street Arts Managing Director Margo Ghia said, "We are so privileged to have Carol and John Wood as friends and supporters of Main Street Arts. John's poetry and Carol's music are brilliant and inspiring." Ghia noted that several of the works being presented (the suite of three Sappho songs, the setting of Apollinaire's "The Mirabeau Bridge," and Liz Rosenberg's "In the End We Are All Light") will be "world premieres."
According to Ghia, "When Carol Wood premiered 'The Saxtons River Suite' on our stage it put Main Street Arts on the cultural map. It inspired a series of secondary works including our treasured set of large scale theater paintings by nationally known area artists. Any time John or Carol bring a work to Main Street Arts it's a 'can't-miss' event. We are delighted to see them joined by Kristen Carmichael-Bowers and Cassandra Willette.
Vocalist Kristen Carmichael-Bowers attended the New England Conservatory and Smith College, earning a bachelor and master's degrees in music. She has performed in oratorio, operatic and musical theater settings, and teaches widely. In recital and concert, she has performed a diverse repertoire, including works ranging from Renaissance lute songs to song cycles by contemporary composers. An active teacher of voice, her students can be found singing opera in Salzburg, performing musical theater in New York City, and competing as national semi-finalists in the NATS Musical Theater competition. She has served on the faculties of Smith College, The Putney School, Northern Stage and The Brattleboro Music Center. Currently, Kristen resides with her husband Jay in St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Vermont native Cassandra Willette holds a Bachelor of Music degree from The Hartt School at the University of Hartford and a Master of Music degree from the University of New Mexico, both in Flute Performance. Willette has performed as the principal flutist in various orchestras around the world. Recently, she was the principal flutist in Verdi's opera "Il Trovatore" in Orvieto, Italy.