Monday, December 27, 2010

Library of America: "Snow-Bound" The Poem for a Winter Storm






Follow this link to read The Library of America's blog post about John Greenleaf Whittier's poem "Snow-Bound." The poem for a winter storm!

The Library of America
calls Michael Maglaras's reading of this poem "The best recording of Snow-Bound...".
















Michael Maglaras recorded this poem in 2007 as part of 217 Records' Whittier Bicentennial Recording Project.

Listen to an excerpt at this link.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

"Barbara Frietchie" read by Michael Maglaras

In this video, Michael Maglaras reads John Greenleaf Whittier's poem "Barbara Frietchie."

video

This performance was recorded before a live audience at the St. Lawrence Arts Center in Portland, Maine on Sunday, December 12, 2010.

More about Michael Maglaras, executive producer Terri Templeton and their audio recordings and films can be found at www.two17records.com and www.two17films.com.

Monday, December 20, 2010

217 Records celebrates 150 years of Longfellow's "Paul Revere's Ride"



Many people can still recite from memory these words from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s great poem Paul Revere’s Ride: “Listen my children and you shall hear / Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.”

Listen to Michael Maglaras recite this masterpiece of American poetry; this still-resonating call to citizen action.

video

On April 18, 1775, Paul Revere made his famous ride across the farming communities just outside Boston. His one command, “one if by land and two if by sea,” was met with two signal lights in the tower of the Old North Church. Paul Revere’s Ride celebrates the call to arms he sounded that began the American Revolution.

Paul Revere’s Ride was more than a call to action, it was and remains a call to citizenship. I can’t think of a better time for us to remember the important events of April 1775 that changed the face of the world,” said Terri Templeton, executive producer of 217 Records.

On December 20, 1860, 150 years ago today, the Atlantic Monthly published Paul Revere’s Ride in its January 1861 edition. “Since then,” commented Templeton, “this wonderful poem has occasionally become trivialized in its old-fashioned reminder of the importance of each individual’s responsibility as a corporate member of our democracy.”

In honor of the Longfellow Bicentennial, in 2007 Maglaras also brought the story of Hiawatha - more than 6,500 lines - to life for a modern audience when 217 Records released a limited edition 5-CD recording of this epic poem, complete with a soundtrack of Native American drums, flutes, vocals, and a host of sound effects. Read the Associated Press story about this recording at this link.

The Song of Hiawatha is a great story populated with fantastic characters - monsters, demons, witches, and animals that speak. Hiawatha himself was America’s first superhero,” said Templeton. “It is great literature, wonderful theater, and an absolute celebration of our American heritage.”











MORE ABOUT MICHAEL MAGLARAS: Michael Maglaras is an independent businessman, filmmaker, classically-trained musician, and founder of 217 Records in Ashford, Connecticut, a label devoted to celebrating the American artistic experience through recordings of American poetry as well as alternative rock and jazz.

In 2007, Maglaras performed The Song of Hiawatha live in its entirety - all 6 ½ hours of it - in a special marathon public reading in Portland, Maine. Since that time, he has performed excerpts from this epic poem at the Maine Festival of the Book, Maine Historical Society in Portland, Maine and The Longfellow House in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

View a video clip of Michael Maglaras reading The Song of Hiawatha at this link.

On the Web:

www.two17records.com

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Snow-Bound at the St. Lawrence

On Sunday, December 12 Michael Maglaras of 217 Records performed John Greenleaf Whittier's "Snow-Bound" to a sold out audience at the St. Lawrence Arts Center in Portland, Maine.

View photos from the performance at this link.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

'Snow-Bound' comes to Portland arts center



'Snow-Bound' comes to Portland arts center
December 5, 2010
From staff reports


PORTLAND - Actor, director and filmmaker Michael Maglaras will perform John Greenleaf Whittier's masterful poem "Snow-Bound" at 3 p.m. Dec. 12 at the St. Lawrence Arts Center, 76 Congress St.

It will be an hour-long reading, with Charles Ives's "Concord Sonata" as a musical backdrop. Donna McNeil, director of the Maine Arts Commission, will introduce Maglaras. 217 Records is sponsoring this performance as a benefit for the St. Lawrence. All proceeds will go directly to the arts center.

Whittier wrote "Snow-Bound" in Amesbury, Mass., during the summer of 1865. The Civil War had just ended, and the nation was grieving the assassination of President Lincoln.

Published in February 1866, "Snow-Bound" was an immediate success, selling 20,000 copies in the first few months. From that point, Whittier became a national hero. Cities and streets were named in his honor. His birthday became a public holiday.

"Yet today," Maglaras said in a news release, "most people have not read his poetry."

Whittier was one of the most famous men in America. Held in high esteem by Emerson and Longfellow, this modest Quaker lived a life of great simplicity while carving out a position in American life as an important statesman, abolitionist, and one of the founders of the Republican Party. His poems were read and memorized throughout America and much of the English-speaking world.

" 'Snow-Bound' is one of the great poems of the English language," Maglaras said. "This intense poetic masterpiece still resonates with as much power as the day it was published."

"Snow-Bound" captures a sense of a special time and place. It recounts a New England blizzard from Whittier's childhood that isolated the young poet and his family in their Haverhill home for almost a week before a team of oxen could free them.

As the fury of the blizzard rages outside, the family and their guests huddle before the great fireplace, knowing they will soon be cut off from the outside world. Inspired in this intimate setting, they begin, one by one, to open their hearts.

Each person tells a story from his or her life -- revealing a depth of experience and spirit -- all seen through the eyes of Whittier as a 10-year-old boy, and remembered by him as a mature man, in this masterpiece of American literature.

An excerpt of Maglaras reading "Snow-Bound" is available at www.cdbaby.com/cd/maglaras. The full text of "Snow-Bound" is available as a free download on the 217 Records website, www.two17records.com.

PREVIEW

"SNOW-BOUND," performed by Michael Maglaras

WHEN: 3 p.m. Dec. 12

WHERE: St. Lawrence Arts Center, 76 Congress St., Portland

TICKETS: $15; www.stlawrencearts.org

Saturday, December 4, 2010

"Snow-Bound" -- An Appreciation









"Snow-Bound" -- An Appreciation
by Michael Maglaras, 217 Records

John Greenleaf Whittier's "Snow-Bound" is his signal work of genius. Whittier wrote many poems of unassailable quality...but "Snow-Bound" is without equal among his poems. It is a work of towering imagination and incandescent beauty. "Snow-Bound" also captures, at once, Whittier's best qualities as a poet and as a man. It is clearly a nostalgic poem. It is, of course, also much more than that. For Whittier's command of lyricism is no better evidence than in this great masterpiece: a poem intended to tug at our hearts, while calling us vigorously to action.

In "Snow-Bound," Whittier speaks passionately about "the hell of prison torture." Since that particular kind of hell is still with us 144 years after "Snow-Bound" was written, his work can still resonate on many levels and in many ways. When he began the emotional and intellectual journey that culminated with the publication of "Snow-Bound" in February of 1866, he was still mourning the loss of his sister Elizabeth: the two of them had formed a special bond that was hardly understandable by the outside world. (We have dedicated Volume 2 of the Whittier Bicentennial Recording Project to Elizabeth Whittier's memory.)

I know of no other poet who can seduce the ear like Whittier, and a moment later slam his fist down in front of us, reminding us of how we must do better and why we must not settle for interminable indignities...particularly those perpetrated by men against their brothers.

"Snow-Bound" captures a time that we, in the 21st century, only have a hint of understanding. Imagine a two-day blizzard (in the days when we still had two-day blizzards). Imagine a family and their friends brought unexpectedly together, entombed by the snow in a Haverhill, Massachusetts farm house for almost a week, before plows, drawn by teams of oxen, reach them. Imagine a time when a group of persons, forced together by the "shrieking of the mindless wind" in a combination living-dining-and-kitchen area less than 26 feet in length, would have been able to sustain each other, happily, through a week of conversation, fellowship, and mutual understanding...without once having to go "online" to escape boredom. And now, lastly, imagine that experience impressed on the mind of a ten-year-old boy of exceptional talent, sensitiviity, and perception -- this young boy growing into a man able, in his late middle age, to invite us to "stretch the hands of memory forth," so lovingly in "Snow-Bound."

Whittier's hands of memory are more than the hands that reach back into the past; they are also the hands that subtly draw the curtain back and reveal simple lives (or, in the case of Harriet Livermore, a not-so-simple life), and show us how self-sufficient people of intelligence and dignity coped with a storm, the likes of which would most probably reduce us, in our own time, to at best, whining, and at worst, hysteria.

In "Snow-Bound," Whittier's use of language and image is without peer. It is Whittier at his finest...and Whittier at this finest is without equal in the American experience. On Whittier's 80th birthday he was presented with a birthday greeting signed by the President and Vice President of the United States, every member of the United States House, Senate, and Supreme Court. Schools closed in his honor. Streets and towns were being named for him while he was still alive.

Tonight, as we celebrate Whittier's 203rd birthday year, and as you hear "Snow-Bound" read aloud in its entirety (and to hear Whittier read aloud is to take the ultimate joy from his work) and not in some reduced, expurgated edition or performance, I hope you become inspired to take up the cause of Whittier again, so that the depth of his human understanding and the profoundness of his universal message can be passed to a new generation.

~ Michael Maglaras

Copyright (C) 2007-2010 217 Records. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

John McDonald interview Michael Maglaras

Follow this link to listen to John McDonald's interview with Michael Maglaras about the December 12 benefit performance of John Greenleaf Whittier's "Snow-Bound."

100% of proceeds from this performance benefit the St. Lawrence Arts Center.