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VPR's coverage of arts and culture in the region.

Composer Sets David Budbill's Poems To Music

top, Steve Solberg, from r to l, courtesy Seven Days, Caleb McKenna and Karen Kevra
Composer Evan Premo will premiere his song-cycle which he wrote using the poetry of David Budbill as lyrics. He, his wife, soprano Mary Bonhag, pianist Jeffrey Chappell and flutist Karen Kevra perform this weekend in Montpelier.

This weekend, Marshfield classical composer and musician Evan Premo will premiere a song cycle he's written, which sets late Vermont writer David Budbill's poems to music. Budbill, a poet and playwright and musician, died in the fall of 2016.

Premo's song cycle, titled, Songs From A Mountain Recluse, will be part of the program called, "Poem Music," presented this weekend in Montpelier by Capital City Concerts.

Double-bass player Premo, along with his wife, soprano Mary Bonhag will be joined by pianist Jeffrey Chappell and Capital City Concerts' artistic director and flutist Karen Kevra for the performance. The group will also play poetry-inspired compositions by Debussy, Liszt and others.

Premo recently spoke with VPR about his composing process and how he came to choose the Budbill poems to set to music.  He said Kevra approached him about creating a new song cycle for a Capital City Concerts' program.

They reached out to the community and ask for poetry submissions and after considering some, Premo said, "... David's daughter, Nadine, submitted a couple of [Budbill's] poems to consider and we just thought,  'Oh, of course! We just need to focus on David Budbill.'"

To prepare for composing his pieces, Premo said, "I immersed myself in reading ... and found five poems ... that I thought would make a nice set to honor the memory of David Budbill."

"I tried to choose a combination of poems that I see of his that are more on the romantic side — nature, Vermont life and more ones that are about the struggle of being an artist and specifically of being an artist here," Premo said.

"I'm just one person interpreting these poems. And like any work of art, I think the interpretations differ for every person who experiences them." - Marshfield composer and musician, Evan Premo

"Poem Music" is presented by Capital City Concerts and celebrates poetry set to music. In addition to the Budbill song cycle, the group will perform poetry-inspired works by Debussy, Liszt and Handel. The performance is Saturday, April 22 at 7:30 p.m., at the Unitarian Church in Montpelier.

Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.
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