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Posted: 
Monday, February 27, 2017 - 2:54pm

JCC will host a musical adaptation of the celebrated Walt Whitman poem, When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d, at 6 p.m. on April 26 in the Weeks Gallery.

The presentation is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served courtesy of Weeks Gallery.

Writer and storyteller Paul Leone and musicians Kerry, Marian, and Hannah Byard will present the program, titled Requiem, commemorating the 152nd anniversary of the death of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln died on the morning of April 15, 1865. Whitman wrote the poem immediately after he received word of the assassination.

“I am happy to bring poetry, history, and music into the gallery any chance I can get,” noted gallery director Patricia Briggs. JCC’s Juried Student Art & Design Exhibition, on display from April 20 to May 11, will serve as the backdrop for the Requiem performance.

“The elegy is the lyrical expression of Whitman’s most sublime theme,” said Leone, “that is, the mystical relation between love and death. It is both an expression of profound grief at the president’s death and the uncorrupted love Whitman held for the American democracy and the magnificent American landscape.”

Leone has been telling stories in western New York for more than 25 years. He is the author of numerous books, both fiction and nonfiction, set in or around Chautauqua County.

As part of the April 26 presentation Leone will introduce the literary and historical context for Whitman’s poem. Most of the music for the adaptation is original, composed by Byard.

“This will be our third poetry event in the gallery,” Dr. Briggs said, “and we are planning future poetry-focused programs.”

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