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Music Stream: The Marshes of Glynn

and other Lanier-Darsey works in concert

Photos by Steven Darsey

September 10th, 2022. 7:00 PM – Atlanta Symphony Hall

“Somehow my soul seems suddenly free
From the weighing of fate and the sad discussion of sin,
By the length and the breadth and the sweep of the marshes of Glynn.”
–Sidney Lanier, “The Marshes of Glynn”

The music stream of Meridian Herald’s CONFLUENCE 2022 offers poetry by 19th century Georgia poet Sidney Lanier set to music by Steven Darsey. The evening will feature the premiere performance of Darsey’s oratorio setting of Lanier’s “The Marshes of Glynn,” with a symphonic chorus and members of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Throughout this epochal poem, Sidney Lanier, in a voice imbued with the “holiness of beauty,” addresses the mysteries of life and humanity’s relation to these and to God. His achievement in this poem brought him national critical acclaim and secured his place in American letters. The performance also will include “Song of the Chattahoochee,” another renowned Lanier poem Darsey has set to music. 

Darsey is both conductor and composer. After formal musical training at Cincinnati College-Conservatory, Yale, and Cambridge, Darsey settled in Georgia, home of his father’s family. Enamored of Lanier’s poetry, he spent decades studying his life and works. When Meridian Herald was founded in 1997, it supported Darsey’s goal of composing a choral and orchestral setting of “The Marshes of Glynn.” Darsey analyzed the poem, worked through Lanier’s book on prosody The Science of English Verse, and applied Lanier’s own analytic techniques to “The Marshes of Glynn.”  

Steven Darsey

Darsey spent many days and nights camping near and exploring the Georgia marshes. Darsey: “During these retreats I strove to encounter nature and to see and understand what Lanier saw. On Cumberland Island, while wrestling with Lanier’s ‘The Marshes of Glynn,’ I had what was to me a revelation – that Lanier could feel the sentience of nature and was able to articulate what he understood: Lanier gave voice to nature. I also perceived that it is my role as composer to comprehend and organize – or compose – these insights into a form that is more directly sensorially comprehensible, and through the holy mystery of music, magnify and commend these to our souls.”

Renowned actress, Brenda Bynum, in her letter recommending Meridian Herald for the Governor’s Award in the Arts and Humanities (awarded 2014), wrote this about Darsey’s setting: “… But, perhaps the most stunning work yet from Meridian Herald is Mr. Darsey’s oratorio The Marshes of Glynn. I had heard ideas for it, excerpts from it and even spent a few days with other supporters on Ossabaw Island watching Steven work on the score, but nothing prepared me for the first full concert (a performance reading at Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church) by Meridian Herald of the completed piece. This is a major work of American musical art and it has grown right out of our native literary tradition and the unspeakable beauty of our Georgia coast… and of the nurturing soil of Meridian Herald. To hear this piece is to know where you are and why you are there and to be grateful.” 

Since that performance, Darsey added additional music and completed the instrumentation for a full orchestra. Now we look forward to the September 10th premiere performance of the completed work.

CONFLUENCE 2022

Details

Date:
September 10
Time:
7:00 PM

Atlanta Symphony Hall

1280 Peachtree St NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
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