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Poetry Radio Project

Music and poetry are intimately connected, and in an effort to explore this connection, Performance Today joins the Poetry Radio Project, a collaboration between the Poetry Foundation and American Public Media that incorporates poets and poetry in features and conversations across several APM programs. Through interviews with and readings by poets like Rita Dove, C.K. Williams and more, we seek to bring a new layer of depth and richness to the music we feature on Performance Today.

Poetry Radio Project
A new way to hear Glass
The critically acclaimed Miró Quartet performs Philip Glass's "String Quartet No. 5" at this year's White Pine Festival with 2009 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award-winner Matthea Harvey reading a new, 5-part poem inspired by and set to the Glass composition. As host of this performance, Fred Child talks with Matthea Harvey and John Largess of the Miró Quartet about their collaboration.
Hear the interview and the debut of the performance.

The Pleasures of Hating
Poet Laure-Anne Bosselaar says she couldn't live without music. But, if she had to, she wouldn't miss Mozart. She joins Performance Today to discuss just what it is about Mozart that drives her to detest him, and she reads her poem, "The Pleasures of Hating."

G.C. Waldrep
The Pushcart Prize winning poet G.C. Waldrep is out with a new book titled "Archicembalo." Waldrep trained as a counter-tenor and conductor before turning to poetry. In his new book, he sets out to re-imagine how we hear poems and hopes that his poetry will have the same impact on readers that symphonies have on concertgoers. Read more about G.C. Waldrep.
Waldrep's "album" of poetry

Remembering Iraq
Remembering Iraq
On Memorial Day we featured a performance by the vocal ensemble Chanticleer singing music called "In the Garden of Paradise." The piece is a setting of poems by Brian Turner, a veteran of the war in Iraq. Turner has published his poems in a collection called "Here, Bullet." Listen to Turner read poems from his book. Read more.
"A Soldier's Arabic"
"The Al Harishma Weapons Market"
Brian Turner on war poetry

Brian Turner, "Saddiq," "Mihrab," "A Soldier's Arabic," and "The Al Harishma Weapons Market" from "Here, Bullet." Copyright © 2005 by Brian Turner. Used by permission of the poet and Alice James Books.

The 'Bridgetower' Sonata
In her new book, Sonata Mulattica, former U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winning Rita Dove explores the story of Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata, originally named for a young violin virtuoso George Bridgetower. After a fight over a woman, Beethoven removed Bridgetower's name from the dedication. Host Fred Child talks with Rita Dove about Bridgetower, his relationship with Beethoven, and how, in Rita Dove's words, "the tiniest action can have the greatest consequences."
Listen to the entire interview

Listen to Rita Dove read poems from Sonata Mulattica
"The Bridgetower" (excerpt)
"Eroica" (excerpt)
"The Composer's Coda"
Rita Dove on Performance Today

The Trojans
The story of the wooden horse and the downfall of Troy is part of Vergil's epic poem, "The Aeneid," written more than 2000 years ago. We'll hear from classical literature scholar Sarah Ruden about the musicality of Virgil's poetry as well as excerpts from Berlioz' opera, "The Trojans," performed by Colin Davis and the London Symphony.
The music of Vergil

Tony Hoagland poem
"Honda Pavarotti"
It's been 48 years since Luciano Pavarotti's debut opera performance as Rodolfo in La Boheme at the Teatro Reggio Emilia. To mark the occasion, we hear from poet Tony Hoagland. His poem, "Honda Pavarotti" explores what happens when the high art of opera meets what he calls the "dirty old experience" of life.
"Honda Pavarotti"

Michael Dennis Browne
Seven Last Words: Music and Poetry for Good Friday
In 1785 Josef Haydn wrote a chamber work based on what the Bible says were the seven last words spoken by Christ on the cross. That music has been used in Good Friday religious services ever since. In 2005, a Minnesota church asked poet Michael Dennis Browne to prepare poetry readings to accompany Haydn's music. Instead, he wrote his own poems. Browne came to our studio to read his collection.
Read and listen to "Seven Last Voices."
Broadcast from April 7, 2009
Broadcast from April 10, 2009

John Corigliano
Mr. Tambourine Man
When composer John Corigliano was looking for words to his new song cycle instead of turning to a familiar poet like Dylan Thomas, he turned to a familiar songwriter: Bob Dylan. Listen to Corigliano and soprano Hila Plitman describe how he fit Dylan's famous words to Corigliano's music. Excerpts from "Mr. Tambourine Man," and "Forever Young" used with permission of Naxos.
Mr. Tambourine Man

Notes to Verse
Notes to Verse
The history of composers setting poetry to music runs deep, stretching from Palestrina to Prokofiev. Just as composers draw on poetry for inspiration, music has inspired many poets as well. In our new project, Notes to Verse, Performance Today sets out to explore the connection between classical music and poetry. We've asked Pulitzer Prize-winning poet C.K. Williams to write a new poem inspired by a piece of classical music that you, the listener, have helped to choose. Tune in to follow him through the process as we'll hear how he infuses music and words.
Visit the Notes to Verse page

Bill Holm
Paying Tribute to Bill Holm
Poet and essayist Bill Holm once wrote, "Maybe Americans should make it our national habit to begin every day with a half-hour of Bach." Lover of music and author of over a dozen books, Bill Hom died this past February at the age of 65. On Tuesday, April 14th Performance Today’s Fred Child will host an evening of stories and songs from artists who were friends with, or inspired by Holm in some way, from poet Robert Bly to Holm's beloved Bach.
Find out more about the show
Discover more about Bill Holm

James DePreist
Conductor and Poet
James DePreist was a on a State Department visit to Thailand when he decided that music—one of the great passions of his life—would become his career. DePreist went on to conduct many of the major orchestras in the United States and the world, but in the last few years, he has discovered another great passion: writing poetry. Listen to his interview about the confluence of music and poetry.
Conductor and Poet

Lincoln and Lilacs
From Fred's Blog
Performance Today is commissioning a poem about music. Not about music in general, but about a single piece of music. Which piece? Well...that's up to you.

The Pulitzer Prize winning American poet C.K. Williams has agreed to write a poem about a piece of music chosen by the listeners of Performance Today. The PT staff has narrowed it down to five works. But the final choice is yours. To hear excerpts, go to the PT "Notes to Verse" page. Read more.

Jane Hirshfield
The music in Jane Hirshfield's language
The February 16th issue of the The New Yorker magazine published a poem inspired by the music by Gustav Mahler. Poet Jane Hirshfield was at Carnegie Hall, and after having just been on stage herself, she found herself listening to Mahler's Symphony No. 5 and seeing the performance with new eyes. She read "French Horn" and talked with Fred Child about the experience.
French Horn

Lincoln and Lilacs
Lincoln and Lilacs
When Abraham Lincoln died in 1865, Walt Whitman wrote a poem in his memory called "When Lilacs Last in Dooryard Bloom'd" 80 years later, after the death of another president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Paul Hindemith set Whitman's poem to music. Elizabeth Alexander, a professor at Yale University and President Obama's inaugural poet discusses the music of Whitman's poem, the poet's relationship with Lincoln, and what artists have to offer in times of great national tragedy. You can find out more about Walt Whitman and Elizabeth Alexander at the Poetry Foundation.
Lincoln and Lilacs
Alexander on Lincoln

Afternoon of a Faun
Ever wonder what Debussy's faun did all day? Debussy captured what his life was like from, say, noon to four. But the rest of the day is a mystery. Listen to Debussy's "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun ," and excerpts of the poem the music was inspired by.

Afternoon of a Faun

Rabbit Remembered
Rabbit Remembered
American writer and man of letters John Updike died Tuesday. He was 76 years old.

When he was starting out as a writer in his 20s, he set a goal of writing a book a year. He did better than that. He published more than 60 books. And one more is on the way...a collection of poems called "Endpoint" will come out this fall from Knopf. Read more.

Rabbit Remembered

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