It seems that every time I attend a concert in Thomas Paine Hall, I am whisked away to another exotic time and place – the hall is a musical DeLorean, if you will. Last week, no exception, I was transported back to a darkened Civil War era battlefield beneath the stars.
Matthew Aucoin describes himself as a “daytripper in the world of words,” and, although primarily a writer of music, has taken full compositional and lyrical ownership of his most recent project, which he shared with audiences this past week. The upcoming opera Crossing opens at A.R.T. in May. Directed by Tony Award-winning director Diane Paulus and featuring the Boston-based chamber ensemble A Far Cry, the opera was inspired by the poetry and journals of Walt Whitman. Aucoin and celebrated bass Davone Tines ’09 previewed excerpts from the work before a crowd of faculty, students, A.R.T. staff, and other Harvard community members, accompanied by thoughtful and sophisticated commentary by the composer.
The pair made a fascinating stage picture, side by side in sharp performance attire. Tines stood stock still, intent and controlled and passionately respectful of the music’s power and flow. Aucoin, eyes half open, swayed and dipped through his composition, engaged full-bodily in the motion of the piece.
“You just can’t argue with a poet who grabs you by the lapels and never lets go,” Aucoin said to explain his fascination with the work and wit of Whitman. “Crossing emerged out of a sense that Whitman wrote his poetry out of need … to reconcile opposing aspects of his identity into one capacious presence.” Read more…