by Nat Frothingham
Vermont poet David Budbill, who died this past November, will be honored at a Capital City Concerts performance at the Montpelier Unitarian Church on Saturday evening, April 22 at 7:30 p.m.
The final offering on what is being billed as the “PoemMusic” concert will feature the world premiere of a song cycle called “Songs From a Mountain Recluse,” written by Vermont composer, bassist and teaching artist Evan Premo.
During a recent phone conversation with The Bridge, Premo was asked to discuss how he wrote his new composition.
“About a year ago,” Premo said, “Karen Kevra and I started talking. She wanted to commission me to do a song cycle. I had composed another song cycle about 10 years ago for Mary and me. We played it at Karen’s wedding last year.” (Mary is well-known Vermont singer Mary Bonhag, and Premo’s wife.)
The original idea for composing another song cycle was to send out a request for submissions from poets and writers.
But then in November, Budbill died. Soon thereafter Budbill’s daughter, Nadine, submitted his poems for consideration. Premo then read through all of Budbill’s anthologies and finally selected five poems that best represented different aspects of Budbill’s poetic voice. Premo also mentioned Budbill’s nature poetry, his works about life in rural Vermont, and the struggles of being an artist in the state.
“It’s a journey through the different perspectives of David Budbill,” Premo said finally about “Songs From a Mountain Recluse.”
Budbill’s daughter Nadine contributed this comment, “My father lived and breathed music: be it playing the saxophone, trumpet, shakuhachi, bells and bowls; or collaborating with musicians who infused his poetry with sound. As one of his poems concludes, ‘Because we will always have a suffering world, we must always have a song.’”
“Bringing his poems to life through music is the perfect way to honor and remember him,” Nadine added.
Premo said he is looking forward to the world premiere on April 22. “It’s been a real pleasure and a real honor. I’m excited to hear it come to life.”
Premo (bass), Bonhag (vocals) and Kevra (flute) are three artists scheduled to perform “Songs From a Mountain Recluse” premiere. Jeffrey Chappell will play piano.