Poetry and music in Granby

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On March 9 I attended the statewide Poetry Out Loud competition in Middletown. I have served as a judge in the Granby Memorial High School for Poetry Out Loud for two years running and I had a rehearsal in Middletown that morning but I was able to see a little of the end result of the hard work of students from every town in Connecticut.

I was stunned by the power and the dedication of the students who recited the poems they had memorized. All of them, to my mind, were winners.

Yesterday, March 10, I sat and listened as three of the choral ensembles from the Hartt School of Music performed music written by Dufay and William Byrd, Eric Barnum and Christopher Theofanidis, music setting sacred texts of long ago, and poetry by Gabriel Garcia Lorca and Amy Beth Kirsten’s November Prayer (from Messages to Myself.)

Ed Bolkovac, the director of the Chamber Choir, declaimed the poems that the pieces were based on and then drew the music directly from the hearts of his singers.

I had been wondering about the importance of the Bruce Porter Memorial Music Series in this little town, but as I sat there in tears, I knew the importance of what was happening in that small church on that afternoon.

Thank you all for combining such a high level of artistry with such powerful messages about what really matters. Thank you to all who support these endeavors and who make it possible for these young artists to deepen their understanding of the music and the poetry they perform.

Two days in a row of watching young people pour themselves into poetry and music have lifted me and encouraged me about my world, and what we each can do to make it better. I could see determination, joy and hope in the faces and demeanor of these high school and college students. It has strengthened me for the journey we are all on together.