Local Composer And Poet Collaborate In Unusual Concert

Wednesday, September 5, 2018
Ethan McGrath and Sarah Tullock
Ethan McGrath and Sarah Tullock

Pianist-composer Ethan McGrath has a fascination with the hours of evening. “I find that I tend to become a different person in the evening,” Mr. McGrath says. “Evening brings a kind of mysterious serenity that tends to make me less task-oriented, less time-conscious, and more philosophical.”

Mr. McGrath says that he often does his most inspired work in the evening, sometimes composing late into the night or losing track of time while playing through a volume of Chopin or Brahms at the piano. “When I play, say, the late piano works by Brahms, I get the sense that the same ‘philosophicalness’—and often melancholy—came over him in the evenings,” Mr. McGrath says. “For me, it’s very much evening or even midnight music; it speaks most profoundly at those times. I get the same feeling with a lot of Chopin, a lot of Schumann, a lot of Grieg, and many other composers.” 

Mr. McGrath will play “evening music” by those composers and more at concerts coming up Sept. 28 and 30. The music will be interspersed with readings by poet Sarah Tullock, who shares Mr. McGrath’s fascination with the evening hours.

Ms. Tullock, also a soprano and composer, has collaborated with Mr. McGrath on many occasions: they recorded an album of Mr. McGrath’s compositions in 2012-2013, have performed numerous concerts together, and have cowritten songs, but this will be the first time they have presented a program of this nature.

“For me,” says Mr. McGrath, “there’s something very special about the interplay between the spoken word and music¬—how words can make us perceive music differently and vice versa. We’re very excited to explore this idea at our concerts at the end of the month.”

The program will be entitled “By the Moon, Alone,” a phrase taken from the poem “King David” by Edward de la Mare. Ms. Tullock, in addition to presenting readings, will sing Herbert Howells’ setting of those words.

The concert will take place on two evenings in two locations: Sept. 28, 7 p.m. at St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church, 7555 Ooltewah Georgetown Road; and Sept. 30, 7 p.m. at Brainerd Presbyterian Church, 1624 Jenkins Road. 

Admission is free at both locations, and donations will be taken to help defray the costs.

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