Poetry readings and poetry singing were enjoyed by a full house at the Ruskin Art Club, uniting an unprecedented alliance between music and literature in the Red Hen Press reading series.
The reading featured Bart Edelman, professor of English at GCC and editor of the literary journal Eclipse, and Brandon Schrand, coordinator of the MFA Program in creative writing at the University of Idaho.
In addition to poetry readings, Kate Gale, managing editor of Red Hen Press and editor of the Los Angeles Review, invited a soprano and pianist to sing selected readings by American composers.
Lori Ann Fuller, soprano, and Victoria Kirsch, pianist, performed poems by Valerie Saalbach, Christina Whitten Thomas and Lori Laitman.
Fuller is not a newcomer when it comes to delivering vocals to her selected poems. She holds a bachelor’s degree in music from Stetson University (DeLand, Fla.) and a master’s degree in music from DePaul University (Chicago, Ill.).
“I’ve been singing since I was a kid,” Fuller said. “Like performing in musical theaters and in shows . I’ve been singing at the Los Angeles Opera professionally for about 10 years. I play characters on a stage in full costume.”
Fuller has won awards in the Bel Canto Competition in Chicago and was the recipient of the 2000 Lynne Harvey Award through the Chicago Musicians Club for Women.
Edelman, who read poetry for the second time at the Ruskin, mentioned his appreciation for the music at the poetry reading.
“I like the idea of joining music and poetry,” Edelman said. “I thought that was an intriguing part of the program.”
Kirsch, an L.A. native, said she has been playing piano since she was young but that it took her awhile to discover working with singers. She spoke of how the idea of uniting music with poetry to the Red Hen Press series began.
“She [Gale] and I both sit on the American Composers Forum Los Angeles Board,” Kirsch said. “She’s a librettist, she writes scripts for operas as well as a poet and a writer.
“She asked me at some point, even though I’m not a composer, to join the board . and we started talking about the idea of doing this kind of event,” Kirsch said. “And because the Ruskin has this piano, we don’t have to bring one in or rent it, and they keep it in pretty good shape.”
Kirsch serves as music director-pianist of both the Los Angeles-based Operetta Foundation, which presents staged concerts of rare operetta, and Opera Arts, which presents opera-related events in the Palm Springs region.
She has also served as an official pianist for the Operalia Competition in 2000 and 2004 and the Metropolitan Opera’s National Council Auditions in Los Angeles from 1999 to 2003.
“I love poetry so much and the spoken word, that the idea of the poetry reading being able to be with music is really interesting to me,” Kirsch said. “This is the first time we’ve done something like this.”
As for poetry readings, Schrand began by reading an excerpt from his book entitled Works Cited. It was published in the