The Poetry of Classical Musicians

The oboe, the clarinet, the bassoon
and horn: these instruments are
beautiful played alone but when they
are brought together under the influence
of a piano, it is a magnanimous, prolific
piece of musical candy to the ears.

This is what was experienced at 7
p.m. on Thursday, March 5, at the Broad
Stage at the Madison campus when the
L.A. chamber Orchestra took the stage.

What more could the ear want. But it
got even better as poet laureate and
"Simpsons" guest star Robert Pinsky
took the stage to recite poetry of his
own and from other great poets.
The first part of the show introduced
a quintet consisting of the bassoon,
oboe, clarinet, horn and piano playing
a delightfully sweet piece by Wolfgang
Amadeus Mozart called, "Quintet in
E-flat major for Piano and Winds, K.

The audience could clearly see that
the musicians were feeling the music,
the sound of the clarinet's engaging
melody interlaced with the pleasant
sounds of the piano all with the help
of the bassoon, oboe and horn. It was
a delightful sight. After the quintet
finished, a roaring applause greeted
them from the audience.

Then Pinsky took the stage to recite
poetry he was particularly fond of. He
recited poems by Edward Robinson and
Allen Dugan's "Love Song." Most of
the poems Pinsky recited had the title
"Love Song" in them.
"Here is a poem by someone I think
is such a sweetie," said Pinsky as he
performed a scathing love poem written
by Carol Musky Dukes also called
"Love Song."

"I lie here thinking of you- the
stain of the love is upon the world,"
read Pinsky as he read another poem
of the same title written by poet
William Carlos Williams. After reading
William butler Yeats, Pinsky asked
pianist Jeffrey Kahane to play while
he recited one of his poems, "The
Samurai Song."

"When I had no eyes, I listened...
When I had no friend, I made quiet
my friend... when I had no lover, I
courted sleep," spoke Pinsky, making
it a wonderfully memorable moment
in the evening.

After a standing ovation to Pinsky
and Kahane, the third and final act came
onstage, a string sextet of musicians
that consisted of the violin, viola
and cello instruments. The musical
piece they played was by Arnold
Schoenberg called, "Verklarte Nacht"
or "Transfigured Night." It is a haunting
piece inspired by Richard Doehmel's
poem of the same name about a man
who discovers a hauntingly dark secret
told to him by his girlfriend in a dark
forest on a moonlit night.

The violins seemed to provide the
light of the end of the tunnel; the hope.
But the cellos provided darkness and
despair. The violas seemed to be the
narrators to the story, their sound and
song never going high or low, just
staying in a certain constant piece of
melody. Violinist Margaret Batjer stood
out among the group as she played the
violin as if it were a beautiful siren
at times crying for help or singing in

At the end of the piece, the story
ended with a happy ending as the music
sounded hopeful and promising. The
audience gave thunderous applause
at the musicians and the musical
experience they just experienced.
At the end of the show, a Q & A
took place where the audience learned
that the piano piece played by Kahane
when Robert Pinsky recited his poem
was improvised in his delight for the
Broad stage.

"This wonderful space is ideal for
us," said Kahane when he talked about
the series of music played there. "I was
honored to be asked to write a series
here," said Batjer. "It's been organic
ever since it was an idea in a table in
Glendale and now here."

"It was great," said Mary Smith, a
classical fan for years. "Very good,"
said Patricia Stewart, another classical
music fan.