To paraphrase Alfred, Lord Tennyson: In the spring, a young person’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love. And what better to celebrate the change of seasons than with a concert — and a poem?
As a special treat for patrons attending its March 22 concert, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is partnering with Poems While You Wait, a local collective of poets and their vintage typewriters. For a charge of just $5, you may order a personalized poem about a topic of your choice before the concert, enjoy the performance and pick up your original piece of poetry afterward. The partnership is especially appropriate since the CSO’s program, conducted by Riccardo Muti, features the world premiere of Max Raimi’s Three Lisel Mueller Settings, with mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong as soloist.
A longtime member of the CSO’s viola section, Raimi composed Three Lisel Mueller Settings on a commission for the orchestra by the Chicago-based Poetry Foundation. For this work, he set three poems of Pulitzer Prize winner Lisel Mueller to music. In her poetry, Raimi said, Mueller offers “a view of the world that [is] tragic, and at the same time full of hope, and at the same time understanding of great complexity.”
Introduced in 2011, Poems While You Wait was born when author Dave Landsberger moved to Chicago from Miami. Teaming up with Chicago poet Kathleen Rooney, they set up at their first event with one typewriter (which Landsberger rescued from in a Miami dumpster). The concept was an immediate hit, with recent events at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Chicago Public Library and the Art Institute of Chicago. “One of the things we feel strongly about — the big reason we do Poems While You Wait — is because it’s fun,” said Rooney in an interview with the blog Poetry in Chicago. “It’s fun to go to a public place and have all these people who have maybe gone weeks of their life without even thinking about poetry suddenly be like, ‘Oh, my god, I want a poem,’ to the point where we can’t keep up with the demand, which in poetry is like unheard of.”
Learn more about Poems While You Wait here.