The William Simpson Fine Arts series has been an ongoing effort to bring to light the exorbitant amount of exceptional fine arts on campus. Wednesday, that effort took a step forward with an innovative performance of “Poetry and Piano” in the Townhouse Conference Room.
The performance was a unique collaboration between Springfield College humanities professor and distinguished poet Margaret Lloyd and award winning pianist and Smith College professor Judy Gordon. Gordon played all of Chopin’s 24 preludes (a rarity) laced with breaks for poetry readings by Lloyd.
Lloyd has had three books of poetry published: This Particular Earthly Scene, A Moment in the Field: Voices from Arthurian Legend and Forged Light. Upon releasing Forged Light earlier this year, Lloyd went on sabbatical, and had a desire to come back in the fall to share her work with the entire Springfield College community.
Gordon, on the other hand, is the more musical of the two, having played with various artists and groups such as Yo Yo Ma and the Boston Pops. On top of that, she was the 1996 Boston Globe “Musician of the Year.”
And coincidentally, these two masters of their respective fields of art are also neighbors.
That, actually, is a large part of how the idea came to fruition. Lloyd loved Gordon’s playing and Gordon regularly attended readings of Lloyd’s poetry. That is when Gordon came up with the idea of possibly fusing the two. From then on, it was simply putting the idea into action. In fact, it just “came up in conversation” according to Lloyd.
“We practiced, we tried it out on a very small group of friends, and they said that it really worked,” she added.
It was at that point that Lloyd realized she had something that could be brought back to Springfield College.
“I had the idea why not instead of just doing a straight poetry reading, why not do this collaboration down at the college, and treat everyone down [in Springfield] to [Gordon’s] playing.”
And it was a treat indeed, as faculty, staff, students and friends all were in attendance, taking in every note and stanza.
The room was set for 70 attendees, but once more and more individuals trickled in, the need for standing room quickly became apparent as more than 80 were in attendance.
It kicked off with an introduction from Dean of Arts, Science and Professional Studies Anne Herzog, followed immediately by a reading from Lloyd; a poem filled with a serious and focused inflection. Once the last words left Lloyds lips, Gordon’s fingers immediately began racing across the keys, creating a dazzling cacophony of sound that filled the entire room.
For now, there are no major plans to continue the performances, except whispers of a potential performance in New Mexico. And since Wednesday was also the debut, it may possibly have been the only time the collaboration could be seen live.
And although this may have been the only time Lloyd and Gordon perform live together, the ramifications of such a performance are far reaching on a campus working on bringing the arts to the forefront.
“I think the arts are absolutely crucial to life and to Springfield College, so it feels great to be bringing something kind of unusual [to campus],” Lloyd said.
Springfield College is in the midst of a cultural reformation, and evenings like Wednesday night do nothing but further the school’s progress in advancing said reform. It is part of the framework that will shape Springfield College for years to come.