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by Robert Rollin

COLTON-KendraThis past Saturday evening the Youngstown Symphony presented the season’s last classical music program with a twentieth-century musical emphasis. Soprano Kendra Colton served as guest artist for the evening in a performance of Samuel Barber’s poignant Knoxville: Summer of 1915.

American composer Samuel Barber was born in Pennsylvania to a well-to-do family. He was a prodigy who started studying composition, voice and piano at the Philadelphia Curtis Institute of Music at age fourteen. At twenty-five he won the prestigious American Prix de Rome and a Pulitzer travel abroad scholarship to study in Europe for the 1935-36 season. He later won two Pulitzer Prizes in the course of his illustrious career.

Knoxville: Summer of 1915, a southern American impressionistic musical portrait, sets a text by novelist, poet, and screenwriter, James Agee. Agee and Barber, both about the same age, suffered through the loss of their fathers around the same time, so Barber was drawn to this extended, flowery text that approaches poetic language and to its prose stream of consciousness. Read the rest of this entry »

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