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Victorian Songs at the Clark March 11

For Immediate Release

March 02, 2001

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA, (March 2, 2001) - Lyric soprano Sue Ellen Kuzma will present "Heart's Compass: A Recital of Victorian Songs" at the Clark Art Institute on Sunday, March 11, at 3 p.m. Kuzma, who has performed with the Handel & Haydn Society and the Portland Symphony Orchestra, will be accompanied by pianist William Merrill. The program is offered in connection with the exhibitions Rossetti in the 1860s: The Blue Bower and Victorian Photography from the Collection of the Clark Art Institute, both on view through May 6. Admission is free

The songs on the program are all from the Victorian era and reflect the Rossetti exhibition's themes of poetry and music. The lyrics of many of the songs are taken from the poems of John Dryden, William Shakespeare, Alfred Tennyson, and Robert Browning. The words to Ralph Vaughan Williams's "Silent Noon" were written by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who considered himself as much a poet as a painter. The words of Rossetti's sister, poet Christina Rossetti, are also featured in such songs as "Death-Parting" and "When I am Dead, My Dearest," both set to music by John Ireland. Also on the program are "Guinevere" and "The Moon in Silent Brightness" by Sir Arthur Sullivan, "Ah Love, but a Day" by Mrs. Amy Beach, and "Mistletoe Bough" by Henry Bishop.

A resident of Natick, Massachusetts, Sue Ellen Kuzma is both a classical singer and a published poet. She has been a featured reader with the New Opera Theatre Ensemble for their Living Music and Poetry Forum, transforming poetry into song. Kuzma will appear again at the Clark on April 8, when she will give dramatic readings of the poetry of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his contemporaries.

Pianist William Merrill has accompanied many singers in the New York and Boston areas and has recently performed in Rome, Beijing, and Shanghai. He is currently music director of the Tufts University Opera Ensemble and is affiliated with the Boston Academy of Music, Boston Lyric Opera, and the New England Conservatory Opera Department.

The exhibition Rossetti in the 1860s highlights the English painter and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882). In the 1860s, Rossetti painted a series of half-length portraits of models who epitomized his ideal of female beauty-what he called "stunners." Rossetti's favorite models, who included his wife Elizabeth Siddal and his mistress Fanny Cornforth, shared common traits of long, elegant necks, cupid's-bow mouths, heavy-lidded eyes, and rich, wavy hair. The exhibition is organized by the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, the University of Birmingham, England. The Clark is the only American venue for the exhibition. Also on view is Victorian Photography from the Collection of the Clark Art Institute, featuring photographs by Julia Margaret Cameron, William Henry Fox Talbot, Roger Fenton, and Camille Silvy. Throughout the exhibitions the Clark will present a free public program every Sunday at 3 p.m. For more information or a calendar of events, call 413-458-2303, extension 512.

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts.  The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free through May.  For more information call 413-458-2303 or visit www.clarkart.edu.

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