Music combines with poetry in 'A Shakespeare Cabaret'

Oboe player Lindabeth Binkley, pianist Casey Robards, and soprano singer LaToya Lain perform six Chinese songs as part of "A Shakespeare Cabaret" on Feb. 11 at the Staples Family Concert Hall

Central Michigan University students and faculty celebrated the Bard at "A Shakespeare Cabaret" on Feb. 11 in Staples Family Concert Hall.

The Department of English and School of Music came together to unite people through word, song, music and drama. The evening consisted of a panel discussion, "Music and Shakespeare," at 6:30 p.m., and performances put on at 7:30 p.m. 

Kristen McDermott, professor in the Department of English, Language and Literature, moderated the panel discussion.

Glen Roven, a four-time Emmy Award winner, discussed why he loves William Shakespeare and the process of setting text to music. Roven wrote the eight performed songs as part of a larger project of setting Shakespeare's text to music. 

"When I set poetry (to music), I set it solely to learn the poetry," Roven said. 

Songs that were performed covered Shakespeare's plays such as "Romeo and Juliet," "Hamlet" and "King John."

Also in the panel discussion was Nick Gisonde, who helped direct the performance and is currently directing "Macbeth" in New York City. 

The evening's performance consisted of three musical performances, and then acting of Shakespeare's scenes by CMU students, accompanied by soprano Risa Renae Harman singing the soliloquies. 

"This is just what Shakespeare is all about," McDermott said. "All the different art forms coming together in one place. But this kind of program where you have scenes and songs is very unusual. It's a very special, unique kind of thing they're doing." 

Casey Robards, faculty member in the School of Music, was featured on piano, with Harman and Faculty Member LaToya Lain on soprano and Associate Professor Lindabeth Binkley on oboe. 

Roven will present a free public lecture, "How to Survive in Show Business," at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 12 in Chamichian Recital Hall in the Music Building.