Mezzo-soprano Constance Beavon was an art historian before she switched careers, and at this free Art Institute recital titled “In Harmony With Silence” she uses her expertise to highlight musical contributions to the French symbolist movement (which also inspired the painter Odilon Redon, who’s currently the subject of a comprehensive exhibit at the museum). The symbolists called for a unity of literature, philosophy, art, and music, and its practitioners–including the poet Mallarme, a key leader of the movement–were fascinated with faraway places and dreamlike, phantasmal images drawn from science and mysticism. Included in Beavon’s ample sampler are Charles Martin Loeffler’s and John Alden Carpenter’s settings of poems by symbolist high priest Paul Verlaine; Debussy’s setting of Baudelaire’s poem “Le jet d’eau”; Ravel’s transcriptions of Madagascan songs by way of Evariste Parny’s translations; and an odd piece by Respighi. Chicagoan Philip Morehead supplies a modern twist on the theme with his Three French Songs, based on poems by Verlaine and Theodore de Banville and written under the tutelage of Nadia Boulanger. The program closes with Angels, from the Book of Revelation, by Bruce Saylor (Beavon’s husband). The accompanists are Morehead (piano), Keith Conant (viola), Sandra Morgan (flute), and Barbara Haffner (cello). Sunday, 2 PM, Fullerton Auditorium, Art Institute of Chicago, Michigan and Adams; 443-3680.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Peter J. Harris.