The annual celebration of the collective birthdays of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning and the Armstrong Browning Library's founder, Dr. A.J. Armstrong, has always been a special day for patrons to reconnect with one another and to hear about what has been happening at the ABL and its future projects. However, this year's Browning Festival 2010 will fill the Library with three days of poetry, song, and celebration.
The Waco Children's Choir will open the Festival on Thursday evening, May 6, at 7:00 p.m. in the McLean Foyer of Meditation. Directed by Julie Bolin, the youngsters will perform Carlos Colón's new setting of Browning's poem "The Pied Piper of Hamelin." Colón, a resident composer, has arranged and directed special Browning pieces for the Library since 2008.
Friday, May 7, at 2:30 p.m., the China Spring High School Choir will preface the regular Browning Day activities with a performance in the Foyer of Meditation. Under the direction of Susan Thrift, they will sing a composition based on a Browning text. The composition was the winner of a contest sponsored by the ABL at the Baylor School of Music. Afterward, Dr. Scott Lewis, editor of The Brownings' Correspondence, will deliver the traditional lecture. Lewis, who is writing a biography of A.J. Armstrong to be published in 2012, will talk about Armstrong as "impresario." He intends to "recall some of the great names Dr. Armstrong brought to Baylor and Waco and remember some of the unique events he staged."
Lewis, a native Wacoan, shares a long-standing history with the ABL and with Baylor (B.A., '83). He began his Browning career as a student worker at the ABL, assisting in the director's office. After receiving his M.A. from Southern Illinois University, he taught at the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Saudi Arabia. Following that, he had the rewarding experience of serving as resident curator at Casa Guidi, the Brownings' home in Florence, Italy. This appointment led to an association with Wedgestone Press, his doctorate at University College London, and his authorship of a number of Browning publications, including The Letters of Elizabeth Barrett Browning to Her Sister Arabella (2002). Lewis, who lives in London, is a Senior Research Fellow at De Montfort University in Leicester, England, and is currently President of the Browning Society (London).
The Browning Festival 2010 will wrap up on Saturday, May 8, at 7:00 p.m. with acoustic guitarist Richard Smith, cellist Julie Adams, and a strings ensemble. The couple will present a program of light instrumental selections featuring music by the Beatles, Chet Atkins, oldies, and originals for an evening that promises to delight music lovers of all ages.
The festivities promise a diversity of styles and moods with something for everyone. We hope you will join us for this celebration. For further details, visit our Web site or contact Christi Klempnauer at (254) 710-4968.