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Here’s my part of the story behind the setting of the two new pieces to be premiered next Saturday at the University of Portland: “Eve’s Version” and “Sarah’s List”.  (See below for details.)  

It started in March of 2011 when I admired a poem on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. Links to the poet on-line  led to a lively email correspondence. I learned he was a 90 year old Benedictine monk with an amazing list of credits to his name who now lives at the St. John’s Seminary (connected to St. John’s University in Minnesota.)  He sent me a number of his poems, mostly about biblical characters. The themes seemed to be along the lines of “What were they really thinking?” and he didn’t pull punches. “I don’t write pious poetry,” he said. Two of them immediately stood out as possibilities for setting, but the performer and the right performance situation hadn’t presented itself.  I was impressed he’d only started writing poems at 75.

 

 In the fall of 2013 one of my students mentioned she had a cousin who married a professor of voice at the University of Portland,  Nicole Hanig, a dramatic soprano and that she’d like to meet more of the Portland music community, so let’s have lunch. Just in case I brought along copies of the two poems and at the right moment I read them. Nicole was interested and later showed them to her friend and colleague who was a Catholic and philosophy professor. The outcome is this Women In The Bible Conference. It turns out Father Kilian is from the same University that commissioned the first illuminated bible to be published in a couple of centuries and one copy of this limited edition is at the University of Portland. They want to celebrate it by sharing it with the public. She was looking for a way to do this. So that’s part of what this concert is about.

The other part of this story is that Nicole’s accompanist is Susan McDaniel, who studied piano with me for a few years as a child in the late 1980’s. She went on to graduate from Linfield College, then received an MM from the Manhattan School of Music and is now one of the most sought after accompanists in Portland. What a glorious reunion after all these years!

Nicole Leupp Hanig and Susan McDaniel at U. of Portland on Feb. 28th, 7:30 Christ the Teacher Chapel, University of Portland

Posted by on Feb 25, 2015 in Upcoming Performances | 0 comments

Two edgy poems by Father Kilian McDonnell set by Cynthia Stillman Gerdes: “Eve’s Version” and “Sarah’s List” sung by dramatic soprano Nicole Leupp Hanig and accompanied by pianist Susan McDaniel. Christ the Teacher Chapel at University of Portland, Feb. 28th, 7:30. Premier performance.

 

Feb. 27, 2015. It’s an odd story how the writing of these pieces came about. My part started in March of 2011 when I admired a poem on Garrison Keillor’s “Writer’s Almanac”. I found the poet on-line which led to a lively email correspondence over a few weeks. I learned he was Father Kilian McDonnell, a 90 year old Benedictine monk with an amazing list of credits to his name living at the St. John’s Seminary which is connected to St. John’s University in Minnesota. During our email exchanges he sent me a number of his poems about biblical characters. The themes seemed to be along the lines of “What were these people  really thinking?” and he didn’t pull punches. “I don’t write pious poetry,” he said. Two poems immediately stood out as possibilities, but the performer and the right performance situation seemed a puzzle.  I was impressed he’d only started writing poems at age 75.

 

 

In the fall of 2013 one of my piano students had a part in the process as well, her cousin  married a professor of voice at the University of Portland,  Nicole Hanig, a dramatic soprano who wanted to meet more of the Portland music community, so we all had lunch. There I read her the two poems “Eve’s Version” and “Sarah’s List” to see what she thought about possibilities. Nicole was moved by these poems enough to show them to a friend/colleague who was a Catholic philosophy professor. It turned that her friend was looking for a way to publicly share the University of Portland’s copy of the rare St. John’s Bible, the first illuminated bible to be created in centuries.  Thus was created  the Women In The Bible Conference of which this concert is a part. That the poet Father Kilian is from the same University that commissioned this amazing bible was just another piece of this serendipitous series. 

 

 

The other part of the story is that Nicole’s accompanist is Susan McDaniel, who studied piano with me for a few years as a child in the late 1980’s. She went on to study with Jill Timmons and graduate from Linfield, and a MA from the Manhattan School of Music, concertized widely in Europe, and is now one of the most sought after accompanists in Portland. What a delightful reunion after all these years! 

 

“In Good Hands” concert; Portland International Piano Festival

Posted by on Apr 27, 2012 in Upcoming Performances | 1 comment

Michelle Tong, a student of Mary Kogen, will perform “Squirrel” from the 2012 set “Backyard Characters.” This concert will take place July 13th at 4:00 at the World Forestry Center, Portland, Oregon.

4/22/11 CD Release Performance

Posted by on Feb 5, 2011 in Upcoming Performances | 1 comment

4/22/11 CD Release Performance

Includes most of the pieces on the CD heard live.
7:30 pm, Reedwood Friends Church, 2901 Steele St. (across from Reed College field.)