MusicIC Presents: Discussing Whitman’s “Lilacs” with Ed Folsom

As part of the 2022 MusicIC festival, professor Ed Folsom led a lecture and discussion focusing on Walt Whitman’s poem Lilacs and why musicians continue to set his poetry to music.

MusicIC continues Friday, June 17, at 7:30 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church (320 E College St, Iowa City), with a concert featuring George 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. 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.

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 pianoThe concert will feature violinist Tricia Park, pianist Dominic Cheli, and soprano Faylotte Joy Crayton.

The following day, Saturday, June 18 at 10:30 a.m., at the Iowa City Public Library, enjoy a 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.

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