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Upton Trio wraps up KCSD program

Posted: November 29, 2013 5:32 p.m.
Updated: December 2, 2013 5:00 a.m.

The Upton Trio turned itself into a foursome for its annual outreach program with the Kershaw County School District. The group will present its last performance of the program at 9:30 a.m. today at North Central High School.

The trio, performing “Poetry Inspires Music: A Literacy Focused Outreach,” is accompanied by baritone singer and Camden resident Michael LaRoche. LaRoche sang words to poems while the trio played music composed by member Mary Lee Taylor Kinosian. This isn’t the first time the trio has been accompanied by a guest artist, but it is the first time in a long time, said Kinosian, who is also the principle violinist for the South Carolina Philharmonic.

There are so many similarities between poetry and music, Kinosian said: rhythm in the words of poetry and rhythm as the key foundation of music.

“It’s obvious that these poems are easy for kids to work with when they have visuals and music,” Kinosian said. “All of the pieces go together very nicely.”

At a recent performance at Lugoff Elementary School (LES), students were asked to visualize and listen to the rhythm of the words and the music accompanying the words. Before the performance began, LES students got an overview of what they’ve learned in a week-long session on poems, including stanzas, couplets and rhythm. Poetry was taken from the Greek word “Poiesis,” which means “to make.”

The Upton Trio and LaRoche created music for four pieces. William Blake’s “Tyger,” his most famous poem, was played in a minor key to help illustrate the “spooky, scary” tiger musically. “The Language of Cat” is a free verse poem, by Rachel Rooney. The trio incorporated jazz/R&B style-music to that piece to bring life. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Birds of a Passage” was a contemplation of what it would be like to fly. The last piece was an interactive and memorable piece called “Last Night I dreamed of Chickens,” by Jack Prelutsky. Students were asked to clap their hands in different parts of the piece and many of them left the program singing the song. The piece used staccato, grace notes to illustrate a chicken cluck, Kinosian said.

Looking ahead to next year, The Upton Trio will perform May 6, 2014, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church on Lyttleton Street in Camden. Kinosian has composed a piece called “The Gift,” which will be debuted in Camden at the event. Dr. Larry Wyatt, head of the choral department at the University of South Carolina’s music school and Cola Voce, a professional chamber choir, will join The Upton Trio to perform at the festival.

The piece was created for a quintet, chamber choir and tenor solo. The poetic text of the September 11, 2011, tribute is by Dr. Arthur Lumpkin.

The Upton Trio was founded by Sylvia Upton Wood in 1989 to serve the “artistically underserved” in Kershaw County. The trio is a part of the National Endowment for the Arts outreach to rural America program, and has been featured on NBC, National Public Radio, S.C. ETV Radio and Bowed Satellite Radio.The trio is sponsored by The Frederick S. Upton Foundation, Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation, Camden Junior Welfare League, South Carolina Arts Commission, Kershaw County Endowment, Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina, Art Works, BlueCross Blue Shield of South Carolina, local business and individuals.

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