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Nobel prize-winning poet Tagore to be celebrated at Hill Auditorium

By Max Radwin , Daily Arts Writer
Published December 5, 2012

“He binds with his mace / all things to Law, / imposes the discipline / of metre and rhyme … Age after age after age is slave to a mighty rhythm.” These are the words of Rabindranath Tagore, the great Indian poet, songwriter and painter who this year would turn 150 years old. On Thursday, the School of Music, Theatre & Dance will be putting Tagore’s Nobel-prize winning poetry to its own mighty rhythm in celebration of his birthday.

The show, entitled “Celebrating Tagore: Translations through Music, Dance, and Poetry,” will also be commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Department of Jazz & Contemporary Improvisation, in addition to showcasing the University’s 20-member string orchestra and 90-member choir in their winter concert.

“You’re going to get some incredible solo playing by some of the leading jazz soloists in the world,” said Associate Director of Choirs Eugene Rogers, the show’s conductor. “You’re going to have Ed Sarath, Geri Allen, Robert Hurst … in a solo performance at one time.”

Jazz Prof. Ed Sarath will be bringing back his 1998 piece set to Tagore’s “Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva.” Alongside the world-famous choreographer Sreyashi Dey, student organization Michigan Sahana will be doing Srishti dances to accompany the piece. Professor Sarath will be presenting a new composition as well, set to Tagore’s poem “Sorrow Persists, Joy Prevails.”

Tagore was born in Calcutta and started writing poetry in his native Bengali. Only after translating his poetry into English did he gain international recognition, becoming the first Asian to win the Nobel Prize in poetry in 1913. In addition to painting and writing short stories later in life, Tagore was also a composer.

One of his songs, “Aguner Parashmani,” will be performed in the show. Demetrius Nabors, a MT&D graduate student, arranged the piece, and Public Health Prof. Mousumi Banerjee will perform a solo in the composition. The show will be an artistic collaboration from many facets of the University, according to Rogers.

“I love collaborating,” he said. “This goes right along with my personal philosophy of what I think students should be doing: not just studying the traditional western canon, but exploring other forms of singing … It all just works together.”

The performance will be presented as part of the LSA’s Translation Theme Semester organized by the Comparative Literature Department, which has encouraged the study of translation through poetry, dance, singing and composing throughout the semester.

“If you really like singing and orchestras and you like dancing, … instruments, and you like poetry — it’s all going be there in one shock,” Rogers said.

Keith Taylor of the English Language and Literature Department’s Creative Writing Program will be speaking and doing a reading at the show, in addition to speaker Amitav Ghosh, the International Writer in Residence.

“It’s everything,” Rogers said of the performance. “It’s truly going to be an evening of all of the arts coming together. How often do you get to see that onstage, really?”


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