• Courtesy Ravinia Festival
  • Kiri Te Kanawa sings Emily Dickinson

Can you set Emily Dickinson to music?

Sure. Dozens of composers do.
Check out the Copland version here.
But should you?
That’s a question not so clear.

Dickinson’s music’s in her beat
Change it and the poem’s gone.
You might have words, not poetry,
If you turn her lines to song.

Composer Jake Heggie could prove me wrong on this—we’ll see tonight when soprano Kiri Te Kanawa premiers a group of Dickinson poems newly set to music by Heggie in a concert with pianist Kevin Murphy at Ravinia Festival’s Martin Theatre. The Dickinson work was commissioned by Ravinia. Also on the program, R. Strauss, Mozart, and more. The park opens at 6 PM; the concert starts at 8:30. Tickets in the theater are $95-$125; lawn admission is $10.