ARS POETICA: Poets, Composers, Editors and Musicians coming together

What happens when poets, composers, editors, and musicians collaborate? Listeners found out Sunday, May 23rd, 2010 when the Chicago organization SINGERS ON NEW GROUND (S O N G) presented a performance of the results of the first Memorious Art Song Contest, including a talk by SONG director Eric Malmquist, composer Randall West, and me. The pieces were previously recorded in an initial reading for the Art Song section of issue 14 of Memorious.

The idea of collaboration between Memorious contributors and young composers arose in September 2009 when I was a resident at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts with composer Randall West. He was interested in collaborating with contemporary poets, and as an editor I had access to a community of new poets. We immediately got to work.

I began by creating the Memorious Art Song Contest, a no-fee contest to which hundreds of poets submitted work for West to consider as the text for creating a new work. West selected a set of poems by Jill McDonough, and our three finalists became involved in other ways: poets Sarah Barber and Timothy Donnelly had their work included in the new issue of Memorious, and Randall West began working with Matthew Hittinger on another collaborative project. You can read about West’s process of setting McDonough’s poems here.

Meanwhile, composer Eric Malmquist, director of the exciting new Chicago organization, SONG, which is “dedicated to presenting the best in art song by established and emerging American composers of the late 20th and early 21st centuries,” got involved. While West was composing the pieces, Malmquist began to seek a venue for a spring performance to highlight the new work, as well as to get performers involved- a group of young musicians called the Beacon Street Chamber Players.  You can read about the history of art song, and about SONG, here.

We hope you’ll listen to these works, and read more about the musicians and composers in Issue 14 of Memorious.

We will continue to bring together poets, composers, and musicians for future issues of Memorious, and for future performances, so we hope you’ll join our Facebook page for updates on issues and events, and to comment on your experience listening to these collaborations, or follow MemoriousMag on twitter.

-Rebecca Morgan Frank, Editor-in-Chief, Memorious

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