Cape Ann Chamber Music is collaborating with the Gloucester Writers Center to celebrate the life and works of Walt Whitman in a unique concert featuring readings and musical settings of his poetry to celebrate his bicentennial.

“Walt Whitman: 200 Years — A Musical Tribute” will take place Sunday, Nov. 17, at 2 p.m. at St. Paul Lutheran Church at 1123 Washington St. in Gloucester.  

Susan Slowick, artistic director of Cape Ann Chamber Music, said that Daniel Graham, a familiar Gloucester voice, will recite some of Whitman’s best-loved works, and Hannah-Renee Becker, mezzo-soprano, and Thomas Dawkins, baritone, will join the Cape Ann Chamber Players to perform a variety of musical settings of his poetry.

Bernstein, Bloch, Hindemith, Ives and Rorem are among the composers represented on the concert program. The featured musicians are Gabryel Smith on violin, Slowick on viola and Kathleen Forgac on piano.

Whitman (1819-1892) declared in a notebook in 1859 that he was the “bard of democracy,” according to New York City’s Morgan Library & Museum.

“His works celebrate and find beauty and assurance in nature, love and friendship and honor what it is to be human in both body and soul. His writings on democracy are just as poignant for our time as they were two centuries ago,” according to a press release.

Slowick noted that Whitman texts have often been the inspiration for works by many composers over the centuries.

“This is the first time that Cape Ann Chamber Music is collaborating with Gloucester Writers Center to present an event. Needless to say, we are thrilled to have such a wealth of work of Whitman’s poetry to share with our community, in both music and verse, to celebrate the bicentennial of Walt Whitman,” Slowick said. “What a wonderful exhibit of the cultural life we have right here in Gloucester.”

Cape Ann Chamber Music seeks to present vibrant concerts that are in keeping with the organization’s mission statement to bring high-quality musical performances to the community. The Gloucester Writers Center is devoted to the development and celebration of diverse voices through the artistic process. 

Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for students and seniors. For more information or to reserve tickets, call 978-239-7391 or contact cachambermusic@live.com

Theatrical comedy opens Friday

Cape Ann Shakespeare Troupe is opening its 12th season with Noel Coward’s “Hay Fever,” directed by Ray Jenness. The play features the Bliss family, which puts the “dis” in dysfunctional.

Family members invite a guest to their country home for the weekend without mentioning it to the others. Not only do they have just one guest room, but the Blisses prove to be terrible, self-centered hosts. The befuddled guests seek a way to escape this most “un-blissful” stay but find that a daunting task. They must endure the family infighting and game playing under the direction and histrionics of the mother, Judith, “a fading star of Broadway theater.”

The play runs at Gloucester’s Rogers Street Theatre on Nov. 15, 16, 22 and 23 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 17 and 24 at 2:30 p.m.

The cast features Annegret Reimer, David McCaleb, Dylan Fitzpatrick, Bethany Willcox, Beth Bevins, Kevin Lee, Abbie Zuker, Carole Finn-Weidman and Patrick Cheney. This production is by arrangement with Samuel French/Concord Theatricals Company.

Tickets are $20 general admission, $15 for seniors, $10 for students and $5 for youths under 13. They are available at the door or may be reserved at cast2008@prodigy.net and paid for at the door (cash or check only).

Celebrating “A Sense of Place”

The Lanesville Community Center celebrates the first anniversary of the Virginia Lee Burton Writing Cottage and the Lanesville community in which it resides in a special program on Saturday, Nov. 16, from 1 to 3 p.m.

The writing cottage, now designated a historic site, pays tribute both to the accomplishments of Burton and to the community in which she thrived. Burton, a beloved children’s author and illustrator and founder of the Folly Cove Designers, inspired creativity and independent thinking and appreciation of the natural world, according to organizers. 

Local film producer Christine Lundberg will show her documentary “Virginia Lee Burton: A Sense of Place,” a film that explores Burton’s life and art through archival materials, photographs, documents, sketchbooks, original manuscripts, and interviews with family and friends. Following the documentary, Lundberg will talk about the making of the film, and anecdotes will be shared by those who knew the celebrated artist and children’s book author.

To accompany this program for adults, children will have the opportunity to do some artwork and listen to stories. The program will take place inside the Lanesville Community Center, 8 Vulcan St., Gloucester, with the writing cottage open for visiting. Refreshments and cake will close out the celebration.

The event is free to the public. For more information, visit www.lanesvillecommunitycenter.org.

Arts Abound in Magnolia  

A grand opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at Sue Wheeler’s new gallery, Arts Abound, at 21C Lexington Ave., Magnolia, today from 5 to 8 p.m. 

Arts Abound features fine art, graphic design, handcrafted gifts and custom orders. Featured artists include Wheeler, Stephanie Mason, Erik Hahr, Carrie Fradkin, Karen Keough, Brenda Malloy, Lisa Knebel, Alissa Cohen and Brenda Cann. 

Wheeler said that the gallery seeks to celebrate creativity and the “buy local” movement with this collection of local artists, as well as other products such as locally roasted coffee, handcrafted wood cutting boards, fish mugs and placements, greeting cards, oceanic pottery, and handmade holiday ornaments for the season. 

Visit www.artsaboundmagnolia.com for more information.

’Leven spreads musical joy

The Annisquam Village Church, 820 Washington St., Gloucester, presents ’Leven Vocal Ensemble in concert with its program “In Gratitude: Songs of gratitude for the joys and challenges of living upon the magnificent earth” on Sunday, Nov. 17, at 7:30 p.m.

Founding director Dawn Pratson returns to sing in this fall concert. The a cappella ensemble of Cape Ann women began in 1991, in the 11th month, at 1111 Washington St., Gloucester, with 11 women. 

For the past 28 years, the group has filled local venues. The current lineup features Kristina Martin, Sue Bonior, Pat Maloney Brown, Caroline Haines, Ann Hyde and Sheryl Reed. 

Admission at the door is $20 for adults and $15 for seniors and students. Tickets are also available in advance at www.levenconcert.brownpapertickets.com. A reception will follow the concert. 

Hypnotist to headline benefit

The Friends of Rockport Athletics is hosting a fundraiser with Frank Santos Jr., the R-rated hypnotist, on Friday, Nov. 15.

The doors open at 6:30 p.m. at Rockport Community House, 58 Broadway, Rockport. Tickets are $25. Email rockportfra@gmail.com for reservations.

Award-winning musicians in Rockport

Rockport Music presents “Curtis on Tour” with the award-winning Vera Quartet and pianist Meng-Chieh Liu on Sunday, Nov. 17, at 3 p.m. at the Shalin Liu Performance Center, 37 Main St., Rockport. 

The music program features works by Franck, Bright Sheng and Beethoven. 

The Vera Quartet, winner of the 2018 Astral Artists National Auditions, is currently the string quartet in residence at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. In 2017, it was selected as one of five Young Artists in Residence at NPR’s “Performance Today.” Recent international tours include Argentina, Hong Kong, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland and Vietnam. The quartet was also part of the opening night of the 2019 Rockport Chamber Music Festival.  

Liu, who received the 2002 Avery Fisher Career Grant, is a faculty member at the New England Conservatory and the Curtis Institute. Liu has collaborated with musicians in North America, Europe and Asia, as well as worked with artists in other disciplines, including dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov and his White Oak Dance Project.

A pre-concert talk will be held at 2 p.m., hosted by Vera Quartet and artistic director Barry Shiffman. Tickets range from $29 to $39. For more details, visit www.rockportmusic.org.

Around Cape Ann is a column devoted to events happening on Cape Ann and artists from Cape Ann performing elsewhere. If you would like to submit an item, contact reporter Gail McCarthy at 978-675-2706 or gmccarthy@gloucestertimes.com, at least two weeks in advance.

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