Com­ing up in Philly music: Lyric Fest Presents a Walt Whit­man Birth­day Song Festival

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Lyric Fest in a homey rehearsal for the upcoming Walt Whitman song performances. (Photo by Suzanne DuPlantis.)
Lyric Fest in a homey rehearsal for the upcoming Walt Whitman song performances. (Photo by Suzanne DuPlantis.)

Walt Whitman heard America singing, and American composers have enlivened the national chorus by turning Whitman’s words into songs. The Lyric Fest song series is celebrating the bicentennial of Whitman’s birth with a multiconcert festival devoted to vocal musical settings of his poems.

Lyric Fest has assembled so many Whitman songs that it’s spreading them over two concerts with completely different programs: one in Center City and one in Haverford. The programs will include older works by composers like Charles Ives and 12 new, specially commissioned pieces by Philadelphia composers such as James Primosch and Melissa Dunphy. The texts range from love songs to odes on the death of Lincoln and, of course, the sound of America singing. Both concerts will include biographical narration by Whitman expert Greg Trupiano and readings by regular Lyric Fest actor Jim Bergwall.

On April 9, the celebration will travel to New York and present a concert devoted to the new works.

Lyric Fest has presented more than 100 concerts in the last 13 years, all mounted with flair and imagination. Whitman should be a perfect fit for its unpredictable, consistently enjoyable concertizing.


Lyric Fest will present “Carol Of Words - Walt Whitman in Song” on Saturday, April 6, 2019, at 4pm at the Academy of Vocal Arts, 1920 Spruce Street, and Sunday, April 7, 2019, at 3pm at Haverford College, Roberts Hall, 370 Lancaster Ave, Haverford, PA. Tickets are $25 online, $30 at the door, and $10 for students.

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