Arts and Culture

Prof. Case Brings Poetry to Life

The concert began with a composition written by John Harbison. The text was selected from 1 Samuel 3:3-21 of the King James Version of the Bible. “Harbison’s setting of the piece is ultimately an exploration of how we react to the mysterious call of the Divine, which may call to us at times and places when we least expect it, including the dark of night,” wrote Professor Delvyn Case in his description of the piece. The composition displayed a ritualistic form that made it intense and frightening at times. After the performance of the first piece by Harbison, the audience conversed about the meaning of the music. Audience members agreed that the music redefined darkness as something that is both frightening and calming.

The pieces following Harbison’s were composed by Prof. Case. The six songs set poems by German poet Rainer Maria Rilke to music. Prof. Case described the pieces as songs that, “reveal a wide variety of emotional responses to God, combined into a narrative arc that presents […] sublime wonder, passionate love, confused anger, self-righteous confidence [and] holy terror.” The ending of each song varied from resonant high notes to dramatic and sudden low notes. A panel discussion afterward was led by Prof. Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus from the religion department, Prof. Laura Bohn Case of the German dept., Prof. Barbara Darling-Smith from the religion dept. and lastly, Prof. Case.

The ensemble included two sopranos, a flutist, a clarinetist, a violist, a pianist, a percussionist and Prof. Case as the conductor. Prof. Case is a composer, conductor, scholar, performer, concert producer and educator based in the Boston area. On Wheaton’s campus, he currently teaches courses in composition, theory, songwriting, and popular music and conducts the Great Woods Symphony Orchestra. Prof. Case’s passion for music has led him to great heights, and he will continue to pass his enjoyment of the arts through his compositions to others around the world.