Gager concert series opens Sept. 7

The 2008-09 Janet Lowrey Gager Community Concert Series opens at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 7 in Memorial Chapel at Sweet Briar College. Admission is free.

The diverse program includes a performance by pianist Anna Billias, accompanist for Sweet Briar’s choirs, as well as songs by Jonathan Green, Marcia Thom and Ellen Hinkson, all accompanied by SBC music professor Rebecca McCord on piano.

Green, a baritone and Sweet Briar’s dean, will sing, “Five,” a set of songs based on the poetry of E.E. Cummings. He composed the five-song set an undergraduate student. “I thought it might be informative for our students to hear an example of student work from the faculty,” he wrote in an e-mail.

“The text is the fifth and final grouping of poems from Cummings’s book ‘Is 5.’ The set provides a narrative of a failed love affair. My guess is that it was inspired by some events, unknown to me, that occurred in the poet’s life when he was in France during WWI. I chose the poems because they have a piquancy of melancholy and a lot of music in them.”

Thom, a voice instructor at the College, will sing several jazz pieces and Hickson, a mezzo-soprano from Lynchburg, will sing Brahms’ “Rhapsody.”

HarpSong of the Blue Ridge, an ensemble made up of harpists ages 10 to 50, also will perform. Under the direction of SBC harp instructor Virginia Schweninger, HarpSong has performed at the Farmington Country Club in Charlottesville, the Earl Hamner Jr. Theater in Afton, the Wharton Library and Garden and at Westminster Canterbury of the Blue Ridge.

The Gager series is made possible by the support of Forrest Gager, in memory of his wife, Janet, who served as Sweet Briar’s director of public relations. All concerts will be held in Memorial Chapel and are free to the public.

Future events in the series will be held at noon on Tuesday, Nov. 11 and Tuesday, Feb. 10. 2009 and at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 19, 2009. For more information, contact McCord at mccord@sbc.edu or 381-6115.