Death Song of a Mighty Nation: Finding Traces of Hiawatha in Longfellow's Maine Childhood

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Join us to celebrate Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 207th birthday! Charles Kaufmann, founding artistic director of The Longfellow Chorus, explores the poet’s childhood interest in the history of Maine's Wabanaki tribes, and how several early poems and other teenage writings generated themes and motives that would form the basis of The Song of Hiawatha, written decades later. Birthday cake will be served following the program.

The program will feature a dramatic reading—with special guest John Bear Mitchell—of Longfellow’s 1823 Junior Exposition “dialog” at Bowdoin College during which the poet took on the role of a Native American. Mitchell is a member of the Penobscot Nation on Indian Island. He presently serves as the Associate Director of the Wabanaki Center at the University of Maine in Orono.

In addition to directing The Longfellow Chorus, Kaufmann is a professional bassoonist, filmmaker, composer, and writer. During February 2014 he will present screenings of his documentary, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and His Music in America, 1900–1912, at Boston University and Oberlin College & Conservatory. He is currently writing a book, The Flight of Song: Longfellow in Music, for which he has been designated a 2014 Visiting Researcher at the American Antiquarian Society.

Speaker: Charles Kaufmann