Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Choir sets poems to music

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP — Chicago composer Lee Kesselman put poems by Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman and John Muir to music in an original composition which made its debut Monday at Lakota Ridge Junior School.

        The piece was commissioned by the school to be sung by the school's 120-member advanced choir of soprano, alto, tenor and bass singers, said Russell Svenningsen, the school's choir director. It premiered during the school's spring concert, “A Night of American Music.”

        “It's written for this choir. It addresses their strengths and helps me improve their weaknesses,” Mr. Svenningsen said before the show. “The poems are positive, uplifting. This was our opportunity to give something to the world.”

        For the song's debut, a professional string orchestra was hired to accompany the students. Mr. Kesselman came to the school Monday to meet with the students, practice the song with them, then direct the orchestra for the song's debut.

        Poems set to music by Mr. Svenningsen and sung by the choir included “A Clear Midnight,” by Mr. Whitman; “The Morning Starts,” by Ms. Dickinson, and “The Life We Have,” by Mr. Muir.


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