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Concert features a feast for the ears


Tracy Cowden Tracy Cowden

BLACKSBURG, Va., April 10, 2012 – Experience a Sunday afternoon with impeccable taste as various musical titles related to food will be offered in concert at Virginia Tech including the world premiere of the song cycle "Vegetable Verselets.”

“We built the program around the idea of meal times,” said pianist Tracy Cowden of Blacksburg, an associate professor of piano and vocal coach in the Department of Music in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

The April 29 event, which will be held in the Squires Recital Hall at 3 p.m., features a menu of songs beginning with the "Aperitif,” which includes "If Music be the Food of Love" by Henry Purcell. This is followed by "Dinner" with “La Bonne Cuisine” by Leonard Bernstein which then morphs into "Evening" and, according to Cowden, some “very dramatic night songs.” 

That will be followed by "Morning" of the second day where the musicians shall perform "Early in the Morning" by Ned Rorem and "Toothbrush Time" by William Bolcom. "Lunch" features two helpings by John Musto. The performance concludes with "Dinner" – where the premiere of “Vegetable Verselets” by Daron Hagen will be served.

A 1911 book of poetry, “Vegetable Verselets” springs to life with original music by world-renowned composer Hagen, fine vocals by the Metropolitan Opera’s Caroline Worra, and Cowden’s crisp piano accompaniment. Cowden located the book in Virginia Tech’s Newman Library, which started the imaginative thought process that brought this gathering to fruition. Even the "Library as Incubator Project" has recognized Cowden's story.

Video: Vegetable Verselets

The “Vegetable Verselets” song cycle will also mark Cowden’s New York City premiere in the 2012-13 season as part of Phoenix Concerts.  

The Blacksburg event is co-sponsored by the Center for the Arts and a Jerome Niles Faculty Research Award that Cowden received in 2011. Tickets are available one hour in advance of the concert at the ticket counter on the first floor of Squires Student Center. The cost is $15 for the general public, $10 for seniors, and $5 for students.

Free parking is available in the Squires Lot located at the corner of College Avenue and Otey Street in the Architecture Annex Lot on Otey Street and the Perry Street/Prices Fork lots.

A reception to meet the composer will be held in the Newman Library Study Café following the concert to truly celebrate a day for the senses.

The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech includes programs in the arts, humanities, social and human sciences, and education. The college seeks to illuminate human experience and expression by creating works of lasting scholarly, cultural, and aesthetic value; empower individuals to engage critically with the complexities of a diverse, global society; and foster the inquiry, innovation, and growth that produce individual and social transformation.

'Vegetable Verselets'

Virginia Tech’s copy of “Vegetable Verselets” is one of six available in libraries around the world. 

Written by Margaret Hays and illustrated by her sister, Grace Wiedersein, the book is a small, hardbound volume with lots of colorful illustrations. Hays also wrote Campbell’s Soup jingles for streetcars and designed toy books for E.P. Dutton.

The book first caught the eye of the library’s acquisitions and processing archivist, Kira Dietz, in an auction catalog. She says she hoped to purchase several items for the culinary collection at the Virginia Tech Libraries, but “Vegetable Verselets” was the only item won that day. 

When the book arrived at the library, Dietz used it in a display that caught Cowden’s attention.

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