Student Poets Shine at Spring Musicale

by Anton Malko

In a program of music, dance and spoken word traversing art forms and generations, three students from The Birch Wathen Lenox School gave readings of their work for a standing-room-only crowd in the Spring Musicale held on March 10th at Bohemian National Hall.

The 2022 Spring Musicale program, organized by Dvořák American Heritage Association (DAHA) with support of the Bohemian Benevolent and Literary Association, featured musicians from ArtsAhimsa along with seniors Anya Lulla and Leo Chen, and junior Jonah Lentz, all members of BWL’s Honors Poetry class. They were joined by Assistant Headmaster Ryan Clinesmith to contribute to the evening’s program of interdisciplinary, cross-cultural artistry that included musical and dance performances.

“It is an important experience for these students to bring their creative energies together in such a collaborative setting, for a live audience,” said Headmaster Frank J. Carnabuci III. “We see our students maturing into global citizens, their growth reflected in events like this as they emerge artistically.”

The anticipation of coming together for a live, in-person, multi-disciplinary event was as rewarding for the artists as it was for the enthusiastic audience. Following an English translation reading by Mr. Clinesmith of verses by Czech Nobel Prize Laureate Jaroslav Seifert, paired with verses of the same in native Czech by actor Vit Horjes, the students comfortably navigated the multi-modal, multimedia environment of the Spring Musicale.

“Our experience at the Spring Musicale was a great credit to the organizers, our fellow artists and the audience,” said Mr.Clinesmith, who also serves as BWL’s Poet and Writer in Residence. “It offers a great springboard to our poetry festival in April.”

The young poets expressed their excitement before and after the event; during the performance, their work spoke most poignantly. Like their peers at BWL and across the world, these students have navigated a complex landscape, to which Lulla alludes in her poem Picked from the Same Stem: “One stem, two cherries. / One bitter, one sweet.” The night was an occasion to emerge from any creative isolation – or better put, “Word written, invisible ink, no flame to reveal them,” to quote Lentz in his poem Meditation on Walking. The night captured an almost indefinable quality, better described by Chen in his poem Garden Party: “Amber dusk like sugar in a faraway place.”

BWL Senior Anya Lulla '22 shares her poem Picked from the Same Stem.

 

The ArtsAhimsa musicians – Laura Jean Goldberg, violin; Kate Dillingham, cello; Anna Royzman, Moshe Knoll, and Pablo Lavandera, piano--showed great virtuosity in their performances of Dvořák’s works, which were followed by the dance performance "La Bella Cubana," created by choreographer Pedro Ruiz and performed by Elisa Toro and Leonel Linares, accompanied by Mrs. Jean Goldberg on violin.

“It’s fantastic to have the young people,” said Mrs. Goldberg. “They’re just at the beginning of their opportunity to read their poems and share their work, and we are all so excited to be a part of that.”

Spring Musicale Performers from left to right: Front Row: Anna Royzman (piano), Jonah Lentz '23 (Poet), Leo Chen '22 (Poet), Susan Lucak (DAHA President), Pedro Ruiz (Alvin Ailey Choreographer), Elisa Toro (Dancer),  Leonel Linares (Dancer). Back Row: Kate Dillingham (cello) Moshe Knoll (piano), Laura Jean Goldberg (violin), Pablo Lavandera (piano). Second Back Row: Ryan Clinesmith, Vit Horejs (Actor).

 

‘It was a very magical evening,” Mr. Ruiz offered. “To see poetry, music and dance together is very unusual. It felt important and the audience loved it. This is an opportunity to experience how art brings people together. Especially in the time that we are in right now, it might be the best way.”

Mr. Ruiz will bring his choreography to April’s Global Poetry Festival, adding the first element of dance in the event’s third year, and will be joined at the festival by the ArtsAhimsa musicians. The Spring Musicale’s fusion of music, poetry and dance has created great anticipation for the upcoming festival, which will also feature an ongoing partnership with ArtAhimsa, a global network of artists and friends working together to promote non-violence through the affirmative power of the arts.

Amid the uncertain specter of war, many lines stood out on this special evening. As Clinesmith read in the English translation of Seifert’s Willow Whistle, “A sob is heard and at that very moment /The tree has been wrapped in blossoms.” As BWL students and staff prepare for the April Global Poetry Festival, the triumph of the Spring Musicale is sure to energize their artistic efforts.