FirstWorks Press Release
Dramatic song cycle inspired by historic correspondence between poet Emily Dickinson and abolitionist Thomas Wentworth Higginson features renowned new music soloists Jessica Rivera, Andrew Garland and Molly Morkoski
Providence, RI – FirstWorks, a Rhode Island non-profit dedicated to building community through world-class arts announces the New England premiere of “Some Favored Nook,” a song cycle featuring an original composition by Providence-based composer Eric Nathan. The work is based on the historic 24-year correspondence between poet Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson; an essayist, abolitionist, women’s rights advocate, Colonel of the first black regiment during the Civil War, and who notably was instrumental in publishing the first collection of Dickinson’s poetry after her death.
FirstWorks welcomes audiences to enjoy Eric Nathan’s “Some Favored Nook” on March 3, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. at the First Unitarian Church at 1 Benevolent Street, Providence. This FirstWorks Frontier Series program is part of the organization’s milestone 15th season of presenting world and regional premieres of significant works by renowned international and local artists. Tickets are on sale now at the FirstWorks box office online at first-works.org or by calling 401-421-4281.
Resonant with themes of love, death, women’s rights and civil rights – issues that are as relevant in today’s deeply divided world as they were in Dickinson’s time, “Some Favored Nook” places Dickinson’s writings in the context of the time period, with focus on her private struggle as a female poet in a patriarchal society, and Higginson’s struggles for the abolition of slavery. A 2013 Rome Prize Fellow and a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow, Nathan has been commissioned by leading institutions including the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Tanglewood Music Center, and Aspen Music Festival.
The libretto for “Some Favored Nook” is drawn from texts by Dickinson and Higginson adapted and arranged by renowned librettist Mark Campbell, whose opera “Silent Night” was awarded the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music. Featuring the simple combination of a soprano, baritone and piano, Nathan and Campbell’s musical work allows the audience to hear Dickinson and Higginson’s message in an entirely new way. Nathan’s composition shares the program with other prominent American vocal works exploring the concept of bravery.
“FirstWorks is thrilled to highlight Providence composer Eric Nathan’s ‘Some Favored Nook’ as part of our landmark 15th year,” said Kathleen Pletcher, FirstWorks Executive Artistic Director. “The thoughtful layering of works by other composers onto Nathan’s original composition, which was born out of a deep respect for the relationship between Dickinson and Higginson, promises an inspirational performance that can connect us to the still-relevant social issues of their turbulent time.”
The residency includes a free lecture by Nathan on the topic of setting text to music taking place on Friday, March 1 at 5:00 p.m. at the John Hay Library at 20 Prospect Street, Providence. Original Emily Dickinson manuscripts and Amy Beach scores will be on display, and a reception will follow the talk. In addition to the support of Providence arts organization FirstWorks, the residency is made possible, in part, with the support of the Marshall Woods Lectureship Foundation of Fine Arts, and the Brown University Department of Music. Tickets to Eric Nathan’s “Some Favored Nook” are available at first-works.org or call 401-421-4281. Ticket prices are $25 adults, $20 seniors, $10 students. For more information and tickets visit: http://first-works.org/events/some-favored-nook/