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PSO Soundtracks at Princeton Public Library Presents Austin Stewart

In advance of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra’s upcoming performance of “Knoxville: Summer of 1915” by Samuel Barber, the Princeton Public Library and the Orchestra present a behind-the-scenes discussion taking place on Thursday, January 12 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Reaching back through time, “Knoxville: Summer of 1915” enshrines cherished memories recaptured amid the turbulence of the first half of the 20th century, linking them in a simple but idyllic tale of life on Highland Avenue in Knoxville. Historical musicologist Austin Stewart, Ph.D., will explore author James Agee and composer Samuel Barber’s approaches to coloring in their own childhood memories of Knoxville.

Stewart will examine public and private contexts of the work that coursed throughout the years: Agee’s nostalgic 1915 memory site and that of the Lost Generation; the circumstances under which he drafted the poem in 90 feverish minutes; and the coincidences that surrounded Barber’s use of the poem in 1948, as well as its subsequent performances in the Soviet Union with funding from the CIA.

Stewart is the director of planned and major gifts at the Curtis Institute of Music, having held similar roles with Opera Lafayette and Detroit Opera. He received his doctorate in historical musicology from the University of Michigan, having attained candidacy in music of the Baroque and early Classical periods (1637 to 1759) as well as the 19th and 20th centuries. His research interests include music and civic identity, the American West, artistic citizenship, and everything opera.

This event will be held in the Princeton Public Library’s Community Room at 65 Witherspoon Street, and is free to attend.

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