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Recital Offers Ballads, Blues and Whimsical Fun


What do the West Side Story, Captain Hook and a Jabberwocky have in common? Each will be part of the next Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) faculty artist series, Friday, Feb. 17, at 7:30 p.m., in Martin Chapel.

The recital, “British & American Art Songs,” will feature baritone, James Richardson, assistant professor of music at EMU, and James Clemens, an award-winning composer and pianist from Dayton, Va.

“This will be a fun, whimsical program that is accessible to all generations,” said Richardson. “I’ve done heavy, more serious programs in the past but this one is lighthearted, which is reflected in the chosen pieces.”

Richardson will sing works from the world renowned, Leonard Bernstein, including, “Cool,” from West Side Story; “Lonely Town,” from On the Town; and “Captain Hook’s Soliloquy,” from Peter Pan.

“Captain Hook’s Soliloquy is very eclectic, almost bipolar,” said Richardson. “You get the full story with the piece and almost begin to feel sorry for the position Captain Hook is in.”

In addition to Clemens and Bernstein, Richardson will sing songs by Benjamin Britten, Lee Hoiby and Paul Bowles.

“Paul Bowles’ songs are full of ragtime, jazz, blues and old ballads,” said Richardson. “‘Jabberwocky,’ by Hoiby, is a very challenging piece but one of my favorites to perform. It will open the program, along with settings of poetry by Walt Whitman and Lewis Carroll, which evoke images of a carefree youth and childhood.”

All featured works have been composed within the past 75 years, including Clemens’ own “Lessons: A Song Cycle for My Daughter.”

“Jim is a sensitive musician, and his cycle wonderfully captures that, communicating the tenderness of a father’s relationship with his daughter.”


Admission to the concert is free; donations are welcomed for the EMU music student scholarship fund. For more information contact the music department at 540-432-4225 or music@emu.edu.

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