Not only is there to be a concert of poems set to music in honor of the eighty-fifth birthday of Gunther Schuller this coming Tuesday, but also the octogenarian composer, a Boston institution, is to be one of the panelists on a pre-concert discussion moderated by Phoenix classical music critic, Lloyd Schwartz. He will keep order among Gunther and Boston’s other major contributors to the musical scene whose pieces will be heard — John Harbison, Mohammed Fairouz, Andrew List, and John Greer. Gunther is a former president of New England Conservatory, which is sponsoring the event in Jordan Hall on April 5.
The concert features mezzo-soprano D’Anna Fortunato. The first cycle on the program, music by Mohammed Fairouz to poems by Lloyd Schwartz about his mother, prompted Fortunato to think of having the panel discussion.
“It seemed so appropriate,” she explained, “He is our poet, here in Boston, and so well respected. He would be the person to moderate.” Entitled “Text Setting and Vocal Chamber Music Composition,” the panel will run from 7 pm to 7:40 pm.
The centerpiece of the concert is Schuller’s six songs, Li-Tai-Pe, Chinese poems paraphrased by Klalbund, that our prolific composer wrote when he was nineteen. The concert also includes John Lawrence Greer’s arrangements of three Canadian folk songs; a world premiere from Andrew List, On the Wind, a song cycle in celebration of birds to poetry of Mary Pinard (who will also be present); John Harbison’s Book of Hours and Seasons, to poetry by Goethe, and another composition by Fairouz, Three Shakespeare Songs.
Greer will be the pianist with Flutist Renée Krimsier, and cellist Rhonda Rider. The noted Boston musicians in the Chamber Ensemble, conducted Yoon Jae Lee, include James Buswell, Violin, James Orleans, Bass, Steven Jackson, Clarinet, Richard Svoboda, Bassoon, Steve Emery, Trumpet, Norman Bolter, Trombone, and Ann Hobson Pilot, Harp.