Page 66 - Oct2017

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recitation,” Robert explains. All told, the performance includes seven
works of Edgar Allan Poe and one “Poe in spirit” piece.
“Alone,” “Annabel Lee,” “A Dream within a Dream,” “For Annie,” and
“The Bells” are accompanied by the deft compositions of Frederic
Chopin, as is the singular non-Poe piece of the performance, a beatnik
poem entitled, “Tomorrow is a Drag.” The poem that started it all,
“The Raven,” is underscored by the eerie and haunting melodies of
composer Thomas Newman and his “Plastic Bag Theme” from the
1999 film American Beauty.
Matching the music to the
individual poems happened
almost effortlessly for Robert.
“I am a big fan of Chopin, and
of course he is of the same
time period as Poe,” he says.
“I would read the poems and
listen to music, and it really just
presented itself—usually on
the first or second try I would
find the perfect music.”
But even more important
than finding the music for his
performance, was being able to
find an audience for it among
the artistically affluent culture
of Galveston. “People here get
it,” Robert says, “They feel it,
they live it, they intellectually
understand it. There’s an
artistic sensibility among the community here.”
Galveston is also a city whose history distinctly resonates with the
grief the Poe was so apt in expressing. “I feel there is a connection
between Poe and Galveston; his poetry echoes the deep sorrow and
loss felt here after the 1900 Storm,” Robert muses.
“He had so much love for the women in his life, his mother and wife,
and he simply couldn’t reconcile the emotion that emerged when
he lost both of them tragically. The mystery of life and death—he
questioned it constantly, and became distraught and bitter.”
Seemingly burdened by his own mortality, Poe bled through his pen
onto the page and produced a canon of immortal work that took
on a life of its own. Nearly two centuries later, his questions are still
pondered by mankind, the mystery remains unsolved, and his words
will never cease to gnaw at the unsettling ambiguity that arises within
all of us when we dare to ponder our ultimate and inevitable fate.
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