UW-Platteville hosts PianoPoetry II performance on Sept. 13

September 9, 2013
Daniel Dahlquist and Eugene Alcalay

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — University of Wisconsin-Platteville's Department of Performing and Visual Arts will host PianoPoetry II on Sept. 13 at the university's Center for the Arts Theatre at 7:30 p.m.

A sequel to PianoPoetry I held in November 2011, this special event weaves language and music together in a unique way that features the collaboration of Dr. Daniel Dahlquist, associate professor of speech at UW-Platteville, and Dr. Eugene Alcalay, professor of piano at UW-Platteville.

During this free performance, Dahlquist will read selections of poetry by W.S. Merwin, Rolf Jacobsen, David Budbill, Anne Sexton, Stephen Dunn, Hayden Carruth, John Updike, Donald Hall, Mary Oliver, Edward Field and Philip Larkin as well as poetry he has written. Alcalay will respond to the nuances and tones of Dahlquist's words by playing a variety of classical selections, including Mozart, Bach, Brahms, Beethoven and Schumann as well as free improvisation.

“I enjoy giving poetry its rightful place in the world – out loud, live, filling acoustical space, traveling from one body to another, spoken by one person to another person – and, in the case of PianoPoetry, surrounded, enlivened and uplifted by great music,” said Dahlquist. “Dr. Alcalay and I enjoy the rare privilege of communicating with one another in the language each of us knows best. With luck, we will capture a local truth that connects with our audience.”

“I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to collaborate with Dr. Dahlquist again on PianoPoetry II,” Alcalay said. “This event is truly a unique partnership between our two arts. Audience members will experience how language can influence and interact with abstract, instrumental music in a way that is beautiful, creative and spontaneous.”

“I admire Dr. Dahlquist’s artistry and the talent he possesses in both his writing and reading,” continued Alcalay. “I also admire the expressiveness and intensity with which he reads poetry. He has a great love and passion for his art. For me, the subject matter of the poems, the tone of his voice and the overall imagery and atmosphere of the poems influence the dynamics, styles and rhythm of the music. Depending on the themes of the poems, the corresponding music may be dark, thickly-textured, busy, turbulent, dissonant, serene, resigned, or even glacial.”

“Poets of my generation and the ones before, traditionally read their poems to jazz,” said Dahlquist. “My good fortune, thanks to UW-Platteville, is to have the opportunity to perform with a classically trained pianist of the highest order – how many poets are so lucky? How many such events are taking place in this world?”

“I chose the poems not according to any predetermined theme, but because I felt the lump in the throat, or the chill no fire can cure,” continued Dahlquist. “The poetry we will perform deals with family, the body and the letting go of the body. Several of the poems offer starkly contrasting points-of-view. For instance, when facing the inevitable loss of the body, one poet cries, 'Courage!' while another poet says, under the breath, 'Courage is no good.'"

“All art aspires to music,” said Dahlquist. “All the themes that a human being has ever wondered, hoped, dreamed, feared or expressed are embodied in great music, which is why we may be reduced to tears when we experience certain classical pieces interpreted by a great artist such as Dr. Alcalay. Someone once said that every great poem casts the shadow of mortality over us. This is true of great poems as well as great music.”

“Some thirty years ago, as I entered graduate school, a gray-haired professor who was saying good-bye to teaching had this advice for his audience of naive and idealistic would-be teachers: 'Choose a small liberal arts college,' he said,” continued Dahlquist. “He said, 'The joy of your teaching life will be in the intellectual stimulation you receive from your colleagues.' Now that I am a gray-haired professor, I realize that gray-haired professor was right. Eugene Alcalay is my friend, my colleague and, by the way, a genius. He helps to bring me to my fullest functioning as a poet and performer.”

Contact: Dr. Eugene Alcalay, professor, UW-Platteville Department of Performing and Visual Arts, (608) 342-1292, alcalaye@uwplatt.edu and Dr. Daniel Dahlquist, associate professor, UW-Platteville Performing and Visual Arts, (608) 342-1564, dahlquid@uwplatt.edu

Written by: Laurie A. Hamer, College of Liberal Arts and Education, (608) 342-6191, hamerl@uwplatt.edu


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