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Emily Dickinson's Music Book: A Live Performance of an American Poet’s Musical Life

with George Boziwick, Kit Young, and Maria Ferrante

Tuesday, July 25, 2023, 7pm- 8:15pm ET

Approximately 75 minutes. This hybrid program will be held in person at Antiquarian Hall and livestreamed to a virtual audience on YouTube. Advance registration is required for both. Doors open at 6:30pm. Limited seating is available for in-person attendees, so please register early to reserve your seat.

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After years of studying piano as a young woman in her family home in Amherst, Massachusetts, Emily Dickinson had her large collection of published sheet music bound into a keepsake book, a common practice at the time. Now part of the Dickinson Collection in the Houghton Library of Harvard University, this bound volume of 107 pieces includes the poet’s favorite instrumental piano music and vocal music, ranging from theme and variation sets to vernacular music.

Join us virtually or in-person as musicologist George Boziwick discusses his recent publication Emily Dickinson's Music Book and the Musical Life of an American Poet. Offering a fresh historical perspective on a poetic voice that has become canonical in American literature, Boziwick brings this artifact to life, documenting Dickinson’s early years of musical study through the time her music was bound in the early 1850s, which tellingly coincided with the writing of her first poems. Boziwick uses Dickinson’s letters and poems alongside sheet music, newspapers, and other archival sources from the American Antiquarian Society to explore the various composers, arrangers, and publishers behind this music, presenting new insights into the multiple layers of meaning that music held for her.

During the program, attendees will hear selections from Dickinson’s music book performed live by pianist Kit Young and soprano Maria Ferrante. Nineteenth-century parlor songs to be performed will include “Oh the Merry Days When We Were Young," “The Old Armchair,” and “Believe Me if All Those Endearing Young Charms.”

George BoziwickGeorge Boziwick is a musicologist, music librarian, composer, and performer. His thirty-one years with The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts included eleven years as Chief of the Music Division. As a composer, His Magnificat is published by C.F. Peters, and his music has been recorded on the Opus One and other labels. George Boziwick and Trudy Williams co-founded The Red Skies Music Ensemble. Since 2012, they co-authored and co-produced seven performance programs on various aspects of Emily Dickinson and music. His book, Emily Dickinson’s Music Book and the Musical Life of An American Poet, is published by the University of Massachusetts Press (2022). George currently serves on the Board of the Emily Dickinson International Society. Photo credit: Nick Gentile.

Kit YoungAs a pianist, improviser, and composer, Kit Young continues to find a synergy of ecologies throughout Emily Dickinson's poems embracing sound and music. Her chamber opera, "What Miss Dickinson Heard - and Didn't" explores improvisational musical interpretations on a fixed libretto of Dickinson's poetry and letters. In 2022, she recorded repertoire on 19th-century, square pianos for George Boziwick's recently published Emily Dickinson's Music Book and the Musical Life of an American Poet. Since 1988, Ms. Young's collaborations with musicians from Thailand, Myanmar and China (where she lived consecutively until 2012) integrate her study and performance of both traditional and new music idioms. Ms. Young lives in Washington DC.

Maria FerranteSoprano Maria Ferrante has become familiar to audiences world over in recital, oratorio and in over fifteen leading operatic roles. A winner of the Mario Lanza Voice Competition, she has been acclaimed by the Washington Post and the Boston Phoenix. Maria's performances have delighted audiences from New York to the Virgin Islands, Prague, Japan, and London. She appeared live on WGBH-TV in Verdi’s Aida, and was invited to commemorate Boston’s Goethe Institute 250th Gala Celebration with Xavier de Maistre, (Vienna Philharmonic). Ms. Ferrante has recorded for Naxos, Albany and AFKA labels and also has four solo CDs to her credit.

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