Irish Chamber Music Performance of James Joyce Poems at Princeton University


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Soprano Judith Kellock, pianist Janice Weber and theater critic Fintan O'Toole will present a chamber music performance of Ross Lee Finney's setting of poems by James Joyce on Friday, February 10 at 4:30 p.m. at the Taplin Auditorium in Fine Hall on the Princeton University campus. The performance is part of a series presented by Princeton's Fund for Irish Studies. The event is free and open to the public.

Ross Lee Finney (1906-1997) was an American composer who taught for many years at the University of Michigan, which established a Distinguished University Professorship in his name. After graduating from Minnesota's Carleton College in 1927, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Music that year at the age of twenty-one for his “First String Quartet." Finney studied with composer and conductor Nadia Boulanger in Paris. During his time there, he treasured his copy of James Joyce's poetry collection Chamber Music and later remembered his sightings of Joyce at Left Bank cafés. While stationed in Paris during World War II, he began to think about setting Joyce's poems to music. Although Finney largely completed his work in 1952, none of the songs were performed until 1975.

Judith Kellock has been described as “a singer of rare intelligence and vocal splendor with a voice of indescribable beauty." She has been featured with the St. Louis Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the New World Symphony, the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, the Greek Radio Orchestra, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Green Umbrella Series. Highly acclaimed for her song recitals and chamber music performances, she is also sought after by composers for her interpretation of contemporary music. She is a founding member of the new music group Ensemble X, whose music director is composer Steven Stucky.

As a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts recitalist fellowship, Kellock has toured the west coast with a variety of programs. She has sung major operatic roles in Italy and Greece, toured with the Opera Company of Boston and performed with the Mark Morris Dance Company at the Theatre de la Monnaie in Brussels. Since 2005, Kellock has been music director of the Chamber Music for the Neighborhood, a concert series in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York.

Janice Weber is a member of the piano faculty at Boston Conservatory, a summa cum laude graduate of the Eastman School of Music, and was a fellowship student at Tanglewood for two summers, receiving the C.D. Jackson Award for Excellence. Weber has performed at the White House, Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, the National Gallery of Art, and Boston Symphony Hall. She has appeared with the Boston Pops, the Chautauqua Symphony, the New Jersey Symphony, the Hilton Head Orchestra, the Sarajevo Philharmonic, and the Syracuse Symphony. She has performed at the Bard, Newport, La Gesse, Husum, and Mondnock summer festivals and has toured China twice under the auspices of the American Liszt Society. Miss Weber has been an adjudicator for the National Endowment for the Arts and has also served on juries for the Gilmore Foundation, the American Piano Association, the Russian-American Music Foundation, and the Aaron Richmond Competition at Boston University.

Her interest in the uncommon avenues of the piano literature led to a world premier recording of Liszt's 1838 Transcendental Etudes. Time Magazine noted, “Liszt later simplified these pieces into the still ferociously difficult Transcendental Etudes (1852 version) for fear that no one else could play them. There may now be several fire-eating piano virtuosos who can execute the original notes, but few can liberate the prophetic music they contain as masterfully as Janice Weber does here."

Fintan O'Toole, the Leonard Milberg '53 Visiting Lecturer in Irish Letters at Princeton for Spring 2012, is one of Ireland's leading public intellectuals. He has served as a drama critic for The Irish Times, New York Daily News, Sunday Tribune (Dublin), and In Dublin Magazine. His books on theater span a wide range of topics, from his biography of Richard Brinsley Sheridan to whatever is now appearing on Irish stages. He is currently Assistant Editor, columnist and feature writer for The Irish Times. He also contributes to The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, Granta, The Guardian, The Observer, and other international publications. In 2011, O'Toole was named one of “Britain's top 300 intellectuals" by The Observer. He has received the A.T. Cross Award for Supreme Contribution to Irish Journalism, the Millennium Social Inclusion Award, and Journalist of the Year in 2010 from TV3 Media Awards.

Upcoming lectures and events in the Fund for Irish Studies series include: Catriona Crowe from the National Archives of Ireland on “Broken Down by Age, Sex and Religion: the Irish Census Online" on February 17; Hugo Hamilton on “Life in Translation: My German-Irish Childhood" on February 24; Angela Bourke on “Stories for a New Ireland: Patrick Pearse's Short Fiction" on March 9; Patrick Lonergan from the National University of Ireland, Galway, on “Irish Drama After the Celtic Tiger" on April 13; and Brendan Loftus on “Postcards from the Edge of Europe: Confessions of an Irish Genome" on April 20.

To learn more about the Fund for Irish Studies and all the events presented by the Lewis Center for the Arts visit princeton.edu/arts.

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