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Visiting Artist Series: Songs of Eagle Pond

Proctor was blessed to have been neighbors to poets Donald Hall and Jane Kenyon for more than 40 years. Following Donald’s death in 2018, a local nonprofit, At Eagle Pond Inc., formed to preserve his ancestral home in Wilmot, offer public programs and events, and host a visiting artists’ series. Building a relationship with that organization, John Bouton learned of an opportunity to participate in its inaugural visiting artists’ program through hosting them for a visit to campus on September 29th.

English teacher Jennifer Summers relished the opportunity to invite the musicians to campus as part of her junior/senior English seminar, “The Art of Expression.” Students have been studying poetry, especially that of Kenyon and Hall, in advance of the visit. In the Meeting House, Composer Graham Sobelman and actor & singer Maggie Hollinbeck performed Jane Kenyon’s poems that Sobelman had set to music. He accompanied Hollinbeck on the grand piano in the theatre as she sang the pieces, and the artists answered more than a dozen questions from the 15 students and several faculty who attended the session. Mostly they discussed the technical challenges of setting poems to music, finding one another’s musical range in their longtime collaboration, the process of composing and performing, and the emphasis on composing and finding meaning in the performance of phrases in Kenyon’s work. Living at Eagle Pond Farm this week, they are currently exploring new musical settings of several of Hall’s poems and experimenting with new versions of some of Kenyon’s works through the inspiration of being in residence in the setting that meant so much to both poets.

Interested students will have another opportunity to hear this music in an intimate setting. Students will travel to the Wilmot Congregational Church to attend a public concert on Friday evening. Hollinbeck and Sobelman will be performing “Songs from Eagle Pond,” poems by Jane Kenyon set to Sobelman’s music. Donald Hall served as a guest speaker at Proctor on numerous occasions, most recently in May 2016 shortly before his passing. Photos of that event can be found HERE

At Eagle Pond, Inc. Director Mary Lyn Ray and I will continue to find ways to have Proctor Academy students, faculty, and staff enjoy and support this important arts initiative in the months and years ahead.
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Located in  Andover, NH,  Proctor Academy is a private coeducational day and boarding school for grades 912. Students benefit from a rigorous academic program, experiential off-campus programs, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.
204 Main Street  .  PO Box 500  .  Andover, NH 03216
p. (603) 735-6000   f. (603) 735-6300   webmaster@proctoracademy.org