The Song of the River


by Teddy Abrams (poem) and Michele Oka Doner (art)

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The Song of the River is a chapbook featuring the poetry of musician Teddy Abrams. The poem, which is also the lyrics for a song cycle by Abrams, was produced on the occasion of the world premiere of The Song of the River. The chapbook pairs Abrams’ poem with evocative color photographs of underwater life by renowned artist Michele Oka Doner. This 35-minute orchestral song cycle premiered on May 10 and May 11, 2019 with the Louisville Orchestra. The song cycle was inspired in large part by environmental concerns spurred by Abrams envisioning the effects of climate change on the Ohio River. “I imagined a final, futuristic day when our beautiful Ohio River has risen to such an extent that the totality of human creating and expression is reflected in its waters, and just before that last day ends, the river itself offers a song that honors the legacy of humanity,” Abrams explains. His words are complemented by Oka Doner’s images, drawn from her project Into the Mysterium, in which she photographed specimen jars from the collection of the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and then painted and stained each image. The two have collaborated previously, and when Abrams began thinking of publishing the work in chapbook form, he contacted Oka Doner, who says that “after reading the song I knew I had wonderful, and even wet material to offer him for his cantos.”

“The last light of the long day

Casts dark shadows marking the 

Peaks of our ambition and the 

Final breaths of monuments”

—Teddy Abrams

Teddy Abrams an acclaimed and versatile musician, is a conductor, pianist, clarinetist, and composer. He is music director of the Louisville Orchestra and music director and conductor of the Britt Classical Festival. He also serves as resident conductor of the MAV Symphony Orchestra in Budapest, which he first conducted in 2011. Michele Oka Doner is an internationally renowned artist whose production encompasses sculpture, prints, drawings, furniture, jewelry, public art, functional objects, video, costume and set design, and artist’s books. She is well known for such permanent art installations as Flight at Reagan International Airport and A Walk on the Beach at Miami International Airport. Oka Doner’s work is found in the collections of many major national and international museums.



Publication Date: May 10, 2019

Center Seam Sewn Binding

36 Pages, 18 Photographs

Center Seam Sewing

6.5 x 9.5 in.