Poetry, Music Blend on 'Love' Tour

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Byline: Ann Geracimos, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Former U.S. poet laureate Robert Pinsky and the Takacs Quartet are on the road together this month - all for the sake of love.

The Colorado-based string quartet and the very public-minded poet, a resident of Cambridge, Mass., have combined forces for a program of words and music titled "All the World for Love." The music will be played between readings. The tour, which began in Los Angeles April 6, brings them to the Center for the Arts at George Mason University in Fairfax on Wednesday evening. Their last appearance will be next Saturday in Ithaca, N.Y.

"The project comes partly from a certain impatience with the conventions of the concert and of the poetry reading," says Mr. Pinsky in an e-mail message. "The idea is to relax some old habits and to introduce some of the poetry audience to chamber music, and some of the chamber music to poetry."

The concept isn't completely new, notes British-born Takacs Quartet violinist Edward Dusinberre in a telephone interview. "I think it was much more common 100 years ago at intimate evening soirees when poets and musicians moved in the same circles. Audiences are more specialized today when there are big - but quite separate - audiences for both the worlds of the poet and the quartet."

The mix also had its day in the 1960s. "It was common then for jazz and poetry to go together. Poet Allan Ginsberg did it," Mr. Dusinberre says.

"We had the idea but didn't know how to get it off the ground," he says. "We knew Mr. Pinsky from his Favorite Poem Project [in which he asked Americans to read their favorite poems] - and he seemed a great choice. Without him, [the tour] wouldn't have happened."

The three string quartets that will be played mirror aspects of love even if, in Mr. Dusinberre's words, "the theme we settled on certainly isn't love at its most cheerful." The compositions are by Leos Janacek, Benjamin Britten and Samuel Barber. …