What would Walt Whitman have thought about the 2018 midterm election campaigns?
The question is not as rhetorical as it sounds: Who knows what profound insight on our divisive political process will be revealed Monday, November 5, in a special performance of songs set to the great poet’s work and followed by a moderated discussion at the majestic Washington National Cathedral.
The Election Eve performance is cleverly called “I Sing the Body Electoral: Celebrating Walt Whitman” and features renowned baritone William Sharp and pianist Wan-Chi Su in an enriching program of Kurt Weill’s “Four Whitman Songs” and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Three Poems by Walt Whitman.”
As a musical bonus, the evening will see the world premiere of American composer Curt Cacioppos’ “I, madly struggling, cry,” a setting of stanzas by Whitman and commissioned by the PostClassical Ensemble, the experimental orchestral laboratory that is sponsoring the event.
The music starts at 7:30 p.m. and will be followed by a discussion hosted by PBS NewsHour correspondent Jeffrey Brown. Panelists include:
- Martin Murray, Founder of the Washington Friends of Walt Whitman, on Whitman, Washington, D.C., and the Civil War;
- Brian Youthers, University of Texas at El Paso English professor, on Whitman and immigration;
- Lorenzo Candelaria, Dean of the School of the Arts at Purchase College, on Whitman and “The American Dream.”
Admission is $65; reservations can be made here. The Washington National Cathedral is at 3101 Wisconsin Avenue, NW; you can not miss it.
Still wondering what Whitman would have thought about the elections? Here’s a clue: “America is not for special types, for the caste, but for the great mass of people — vast, surging, hopeful.”