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World Premiere at Mercer Dedicated to 9/11 Victims

August 26, 2003

Wes Griffith: (478) 301-2232

On Friday, Sept. 12, Mercer University's Department of Music will host an evening of music and poetry, featuring the world premiere of "The Laughing Monkeys of Gravity," a poem by award-winning poet Stephen Bluestone (shown at right) set to the music of Atlanta composer Curtis Bryant. The program will be at 8 p.m. in Neva Langley Fickling Hall in Mercer's McCorkle Music Building. Admission is free; however, seating is limited.

Performing will be renowned soloist Arietha Lockhart, soprano; Mercer faculty artists, and the Mercer Singers under the direction of Dr. Stanley Roberts.

Commissioned by Mercer's College of Liberal Arts, the event will include performances of "O City" and "Holiness Everywhere," collaborations by Bluestone and Bryant that have been performed in Atlanta and New York.

"O City!" is dedicated to the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and is the result of Bryant's request for Bluestone to create a text on the horror of the tragic event. The text speaks of the universal city of mankind under siege and suggests that all of human civilization is a single shining city that has been defiled by hatred and ignorance.

Lockhart will perform the "Portrait" aria from Zabette, which is a three-act opera composed by Bryant.

"The Laughing Monkeys of Gravity" is a poem of four sections—each depicting the conflict between human desire and the indifferent world that is the essence of comedy.

Bryant has garnered six Southern Regional Emmy Award nominations for original music and numerous awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.

Bluestone has won numerous awards for his poetry, including two Hopwood Prizes, a National Endowment of Humanities award and a Pushcart prize nomination. The Laughing Monkeys of Gravity, a collection of poetry published by Mercer University Press in 1995, was nominated for the National Book Award. He is professor of English at Mercer and also teaches film.

For more information on the concert, contact Patty Crocker in the Department of Music at 478-301-2748.