Composer Jan Gilbert Bringing Music, Poetry, Indian Dance to UMaine Nov. 9-13

Contact: Karen Cole, 581-4704; George Manlove, 581-3756

Composer and poet Jan Gilbert, a music lecturer at Macalester College in Minnesota, an authority on the music of Africa and Asia and a former UMaine faculty member in the 1980s, is visiting campus classrooms and performance halls Nov. 9-13.

Gilbert, appearing at the invitation of UMaine music professor and mezzo-soprano Nancy Ogle, will be working with faculty, students and community musicians in four days of lectures, classes and performances, beginning Wednesday, Nov. 9 with a program from 12:15-1:30 p.m. in the Bangor Lounge in Memorial Union titled “Circling Katahdin.” It is a discussion of poetry and music collaborations with Gilbert, poet Kathleen Lignell and Ogle.

The public is invited to join the university community in attending these events.

Gilbert is an internationally recognized composer whose interest in experimental and non-western music has led her to create many works centering on African and Asian cultures. Among her choral works are “Let that Day be Darkness” (set in Krio), “Nightchants” (settings of Native American, African and Sanskrit poetry), “One Evening” (a setting in Tamil for South Indian dance and choir), and two recent orchestral works – “Nine in One” (a setting of a Hmong folktale) and “Khoj: the Search for Light” (a collaboration with Asian Indian story teller Gita Kar).

Chanticleer recently featured selections from NightChants in a concert titled “Sound in Spirit,” released on Warner Classics this fall. Gilbert has worked collaboratively with Ogle, who has performed Gilbert’s work at the last four American Composers Alliance Festivals in New York City.

Gilbert has received commissions from the Dale Warland Singers, Ars Nova Singers, LISTEN, the American Guild of Organists and the St. Paul Civic Symphony, in addition to Chanticleer. Her work has received support from the National Endowment of the Arts, McKnight Foundation, Jerome Foundation and Northwest Area Foundation. She has also completed several residencies at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, N.H.

Following her noontime program Nov. 9 in the Memorial Union, Gilbert will lead a discussion titled “through the looking glass. . . .,” a showing of multi-media work and a discussion of Gilbert’s music, in Room 102, Class of 1944 Building, from 5:30-7 p.m.

On Thursday, Nov. 10, Gilbert will lead an improvisational workshop from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Minsky Recital Hall. Musicians are invited to bring instruments and participate.

On Friday, Nov 11, a special evening concert and tribute to Gilbert, “Gitanjali” (song offerings), will feature compositions by Gilbert, with performances by the Orono String Quartet, the University Singers and students, faculty from the School of Performing Arts and Indian dancer and choreographer Ranee Ramaswamy, founder of the Ragamala Music and Dance Theater in Minneapolis, Minn. The performances start at 7:30 p.m. in Minsky Recital Hall, with a $6 admission charge. Students with a MaineCard are admitted free to all Minsky recitals and concerts, unless otherwise noted.

Gitanjali combines traditional western instruments with South Indian musical elements, dance and poetry. Gilbert, who has studied Indian music extensively, composed and dedicated one of her works to Ramaswamy, a leading presenter in Indian dance in the United States. Ramaswamy will help present the piece, incorporating poetry, music and dance.

On Sunday, Nov 13, the University Singers will perform a concert featuring “Circling Katahdin,” a new work written for the UMaine singers by Gilbert. It starts at 2 p.m. in Minsky Recital Hall, with a $6 admission charge.

Gilbert received her DMA in composition from the University of Illinois in Urbana, where she specialized in experimental and electronic music composition. She has also taught at Middlebury College, St. Olaf College and at the University of Maine, Orono from 1983-1986. Gilbert also is a former music curator at Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis.

Further information is available by calling Karen Cole in the School of Performing Arts at 581-4704.