Orchestra plays tribute to love with poetry set to music

Amber Englebert

You can be too late for Valentine’s Day, but it is never too late to celebrate love.

The Missouri Southern Orchestra is presenting Music in Love…with Poetry on Feb. 27, as a tribute to the many forms love takes.

“We have the love between lovers,” said Dr. Kexi Liu, director of the orchestra. “We have love between mother and child, and love between a person and his country. We have sorrowful love and joyful love. Also, we have a Chinese piece. The story is an oriental Romeo and Juliet. I made the arrangement for the orchestra. So there is Western love, and Eastern love. A variety of loves.”

The pieces chosen for the concert are in a classical vein, but Liu thinks it is important for people to be exposed to the classics.

“I think music, especially the classical, should be part of the education of a person,” Liu said. “It is just like when someone studies English. You have to read the classics, like Shakespeare. I think a person needs to know about this music. The more someone comes to a concert with the classical music, the more they enjoy that music.”

During the performance, selected poems will be read before each piece is performed.

“I think it will be interesting to see each expression of love, when in the form of a poem and when in the form of music,” Liu said.

Dr. Joy Dworkin, professor of English, is helping Liu select the poems.

“It is going to be different to present a classical music concert that way,” Dworkin said. “Because poetry uses words, the reference is more clear. You’re identifying a certain theme through words. You have certain ideas and images in mind when you hear the music.

“I’ve been looking for poems that seem to correspond to the music. I want to find some really good poems, some different poetic traditions. I’ve been looking for poems that do stand well on their own. That’s been fun, but it has actually been more challenging than I initially thought it was going to be. But it has been fun.”

Though some of the music is challenging to perform, the orchestra is up for the task.

“I think the orchestra is handling the music very, very well,” Liu said.

“The orchestra consists of students, faculty members, community members and there are a few high school students. We have selected a few capable high school students to join the orchestra. They are doing a very good job.”

There is no cost to attend, and after the concert there will be an open reception for the audience.