Thursday, September 29, 2011

Poetry Scores to premiere Barbara Harbach’s ‘Incantata’

Poetry Scores to premiere Barbara Harbach’s ‘Incantata’
Chamber orchestra will perform poetry score to Paul Muldoon’s elegy
Free concert Sunday, Oct. 30 at The Touhill
Lecture Oct. 27, Art Invitational Nov. 11

Poetry Scores will premiere Barbara Harbach’s poetry score to Paul Muldoon’s Incantata at 3 p.m. Sunday, October 30 at the Lee Theater, part of the Touhill Performing Arts Center on the campus of the University of Missouri–St. Louis. The concert, co-presented by Women in the Arts at UMSL, is free and open to the public, with plenty of free parking.

Harbach’s score to Incantata will be performed by an eight-member chamber orchestra (Flute, Clarinet in Bb, Bassoon, French Horn, Trumpet in Bb, Piano, Violin, Viola and Cello) conducted by James Richards. Sequenced around the four movements of the chamber piece, Eamonn Wall will perform Muldoon’s poem, an elegy for Mary Farl Powers and a celebration of the poet’s love and life shared with her. Chris King, creative director of Poetry Scores and producer of Incantata, will briefly introduce the performance. The entire program will run less than an hour with no intermission.

Poetry Scores is a St. Louis-based arts organization dedicated to translating poetry into other media; Incantata is its sixth poetry score. Paul Muldoon is a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet from Ireland now based at Princeton University. Barbara Harbach is a St. Louis-based composer and publisher of many works, concertizing musician and professor of music at UMSL. Eamonn Wall is an Irish poet and professor of Irish literature at UMSL.

Paul Muldoon’s poem “Incantata” was published in The Annals of Chile (1994). It is often cited as one of the best poems written in English by anyone who currently is alive. Muldoon is collaborating on the poetry score, and his performance of the poem will appear on the Poetry Scores CD once Harbach’s composition is recorded. A live performance of the premiere will be recorded by Adam Long, the multiple Grammy-nominated sound engineer based in St. Louis.

I was drawn to the many feelings and emotions in the poem, the cry of heartbreak, enduring love, humor, pathos, giddiness, allusions to music, literature, art, liquor and food,” Harbach said of her score.

The premiere of Harbach’s score will be prefaced a few days previously with a lecture on “Paul Muldoon’s ‘Incantata’ and its Sources” by Guinn Batten, a professor of English at Washington University. Batten will speak 12:30-1:45 p.m. Thursday, October 27 in Room 331 of the Social Sciences & Business Building at UMSL. The composer, Harbach, and producer, King, will join Batten for a discussion. The lecture is free and open to the public, though a parking permit is required; call 314-516-7299 or visit and click REGISTER.

Poetry Scores’ work with Incantata will conclude 6-9 p.m
. Friday, November 11 with its 6th annual Art Invitational at Mad Art Gallery, 2727 So. 12th St. in Soulard. Some 50 visual artists are making new work in response to Incantata. As always at a Poetry Scores Art Invitational, all work is titled by the artist after language taken directly from the poem, then the work is hung in the space according to where in the flow of the poem the language chosen for the title appears. “In that sense, the poem itself hangs the show,” said King, who is curating the invitational. All work will be for sale on silent and live auction (many payment forms accepted), with proceeds split evenly between artist, gallery, and Poetry Scores.

For more information on Poetry Scores, visit, email or call 314-265-1435. For more information on Barbara Harbach, visit For directions to the Touhill, visit For directions to Mad Art Gallery, visit

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