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WoW Celebrates Anniversary of The Song of the Lark

WoW Celebrates Anniversary of The Song of the Lark

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Willa Cather Foundation is celebrating the 100th anniversary of Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark with a series of special activities in Red Cloud. Weekend of Willa (WoW) has ample entertainment to offer guests the weekend of August 14-15, including a picnic and night sky viewing on the 612-acre Cather Prairie, guided tours of the Cather historic sites, an art exhibit commemorating the novel’s centenary year, and a special program at the historic Red Cloud Opera House.

On Friday, August 14, the Foundation will play host to the Platte Valley Astronomical Observers for a night sky viewing. The viewing will be preceded by a picnic at the Cather Prairie and a guided hike at sunset. Participants will enjoy the peacefulness of the prairie after dark with the opportunity to view Saturn and perhaps a Perseid or two.

The Willa Cather Foundation’s Gala Dinner and Performance will take place Saturday, August 15, beginning with cocktails at 5:00 p.m. in the Art Gallery followed by a dinner and performance at 6:30 pm in the historic Red Cloud Opera House, 413 North Webster Street.

The exhibit includes visual art in many mediums and a selection of work from artists who live in Red Cloud, Nebraska, Cather’s hometown, and from across the state and elsewhere. One limited-edition print featuring artwork from the covers of twenty-four editions of The Song of the Lark published from 1915 to 2015, will also be available.

Participating artists include: Jenine Wilhelms, Deb Kubik, Amy Springer, Carol Thompson, Toni Turnquist, Mark Moseman, David McCleery, Margaret Krug, Richard Schilling, Travis Hencey, Gwen Lewis, Margaret Berry, Jane Marie, Jeremy Daniels, Betty Kort, Kim (Reid Kuhn) Darling, Sally Jurgensmeier, Nancy Childs, and Cody Carson-Brown.

Entertainment at the Gala Dinner will feature a performance entitled The Song of the Lark, a song cycle by Barlow Bradford that received its first performance at Salt Lake City’s Intermezzo Chamber Music series in 2010. Based on Willa Cather’s 1915 novel of the same name, the cycle was warmly received at its premier and in the reviews that followed for both its skillful composition and its melodic expressivity and emotional impact. The cycle's four songs focus on four key episodes in the novel. Though its libretto at every point draws on Cather's text, it adapts the words of her novel freely and creatively to the different needs of a different genre, the lyric song cycle.

The performance will receive its Nebraska debut through support from the Giger Foundation and the Porter Family. The Porters commissioned the piece in memory of Laudie Porter who, as wife and mother, had gotten the whole Porter family into Willa Cather enthusiasts. David Porter, violinist with the Utah Symphony and President of the Intermezzo Chamber Music Series, will be present to introduce the program.

Tickets for Friday’s prairie picnic and programs are $35/person. Saturday’s gala dinner and performance are $75/person. Purchase tickets online or by contacting Ana Armstrong at aarmstrong@willacather.org or at 402-746-2653.

About the Performers

Michelle Dean (soprano) is currently a senior at the University of Utah. She has participated the past three years as a soloist and ensemble member in the University's Chamber Choir and Lyric Opera Ensemble. She has traveled to France and Spain to sing with the Chamber Choir and to Italy to sing a lead role in an opera with the La Musica Lirica opera program. After Michelle completes her Bachelor's degree in the spring of 2016 she plans on earning her Master's degree and pursuing a career as a classical singer.

Dr. Barlow Bradford (composer and pianist) has distinguished himself as a conductor, composer, arranger, pianist, organist, and teacher. As an orchestral and choral conductor, he co-founded the Utah Chamber Artists in 1991 and has led that organization to international acclaim for its impeccable, nuanced performances and award-winning recordings. His compositions and arrangements have garnered much attention for their innovation and dramatic scope, from delicate, transparent intimacy to epic grandeur. Presently Dr. Bradford serves as the Ellen Neilsen Barnes Presidential Chair of Choral Studies at the University of Utah where his work with the Chamber Choir lead to the Gran Prix in the Florilege International Competition for Choral Singing in 2014 and the European Gran Prix for Choral Singing in 2015. He also continues as Music Director of Utah Chamber Artists and Chorus Director of the Utah Symphony Chorus.

About the Prairie and Night Sky Viewing

The Willa Cather Memorial Prairie is a botanical treasure consisting of 612 acres of never-been-plowed native prairie. The Willa Cather Foundation has worked extensively to return this land to its 19th century conditions, a time before the encroachment of man and foreign plant species. After a brief introduction, we will explore the prairie, view Saturn and perhaps a Perseid or two. Participants will enjoy the peacefulness of the prairie after dark. Guests should bring lawn chairs or blankets!

About the Exhibit

This year marks the publication centenary of The Song of the Lark. The novel, Cather’s third, is a self-portrait of an artist in the making. The Growth of an Artist was organized in conjunction with the 60th annual Spring Conference and 15th International Seminar, themed “Fragments of Desire: Cather and the Arts.” This unique exhibit highlights the talents of a number of regional artists while also celebrating the novel’s milestone year.

About the Willa Cather Foundation

Founded in 1955 and headquartered in Red Cloud, the Willa Cather Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting Willa Cather’s legacy through education, historic preservation, and the arts.

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