Baylor Celebrates 'Browning Festival 2010'

April 29, 2010

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Baylor University's Armstrong Browning Library will celebrate the birthdays of English poets Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning and former Baylor English department chair Dr. A.J. Armstrong during the three-day Browning Festival 2010, Thursday, May 6, through Saturday, May 8, in the library's McLean Foyer of Meditation on the Baylor campus.

The Browning Festival will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 6, with the Waco Children's Choir under the direction of Julie Bolin. The choir will premiere a new setting of Robert Browning's poem The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Waco composer Carlos Colon-Quintana.

On Friday, May 7, at 2:30 p.m., the China Spring High School Choir will perform a winning composition of a Browning text under the direction of Susan Thrift.

Following the choir, the Browning Festival will scholar Dr. Scott Lewis, president of the Browning Society in London, senior research fellow of De Montfort University in Leicester, England and editor of The Brownings' Correspondence, who will present "'Boundless Life': A.J. Armstrong as Impresario" as the annual Browning Festival lecture.

A reception will follow Lewis's lecture in the Cox Reception Hall.

Lewis will discuss the accomplishments of Armstrong, including the donation of his own Browning collection to Baylor in 1918, his dedication to acquiring books and other artifacts of the Brownings and the his efforts in raising the funds for the library to be opened in 1951.

"Early on, Armstrong brought not only great poets such as Carl Sandberg, Edna St. Vincent Millay and Robert Frost to Baylor, he also arranged for leading performing artists such as Marian Anderson, Basil Rathbone and Katharine Cornell to perform in Waco," Lewis said. "He fully understood the need to obtain resources, and he used these performances to raise funds to support the creation of the library. The building and its collection are his greatest achievement."

The Browning Festival will conclude at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 8, with Richard Smith, Nashville acoustic guitarist, and his wife, Julie Adams, on cello, and a string ensemble.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning died at the age of 55 in 1861, while her husband, Robert Browning, was 77, when he died in 1889. The two were married for only 15 years when Elizabeth died in Browning's arms at their home in Florence, Italy. Their union was considered to be one of the greatest literary romances ever known.

Browning Festival events are free and open to the public.

Armstrong Browning Library is located at 710 Speight Ave. at Eighth Street, Waco, Texas.

For more information about Browning Festival, contact Armstrong Browning Library at (254) 710-4968.

by Lillyan Baker, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805

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