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KALAMAZOO – Fontana Chamber Arts will present a world premiere of the new jazz project from pianist/composer Fred Hersch and his extraordinary Ensemble as they present “Leaves of Grass” on Sunday March 30 at 8 p.m. The performance will be held in the Dalton Center Recital Hall on the campus Western Michigan University. The concert will feature an evening of music inspired by and featuring the poetry of Walt Whitman.
The poetry of Walt Whitman speaks both to society as a whole and to the freedom of the individual-and his use of language is modern, surprising and musical. Selected portions of his epic poem “Song of Myself” will be narrated over instrumental textures or set in song form. Other pieces will use titles or phrases as the inspiration for instrumental compositions as well as new songs. These virtuoso musicians are well-known for their ability as improvisers in both the jazz and new music idioms.
The ensemble and the compositions will musically reflect the energy, rhythm and passion that is uniquely Whitman’s. In addition, slide projections will be used to present calligraphy of the poems as well as photographs and paintings by visual artist Marianne Kolb. Musicians include: Fred Hersch (Piano), Kurt Elling & Norma Winstone (Vocals), Ralph Alessi (Trumpet/Flugelhorn), Tony Malaby (Tenor Sax), Michael Moore (Alto Sax/Clarinet/Bass Clarinet), Erik Friedlander (Cello), Drew Gress (Bass), John Hollenbeck (Drums/Percussion).
“Leaves of Grass” is funded in part by a $20,000 grant received by Fontana Chamber Arts from the Arcus Gay and Lesbian Fund.
The Arcus Foundation of Kalamazoo seeks to contribute to a pluralistic society that celebrates diversity and dignity; invests in youth and justice; and promotes tolerance and compassion. The foundation awarded the Fontana grant from its Arcus Gay and Lesbian Fund, which supports efforts to improve the quality of life in Southwest Michigan in the areas of social justice, youth, arts, culture and the environment. The fund also serves to highlight and celebrate the contributions of the gay and lesbian community in Southwest Michigan.
Tickets are $20 for adults and $5 for students. They can be purchased through Miller Auditorium and the Epic Center Box Office at (800) 228-9858 or (269) 387-2300.