The Song of the River978-1-7324286-1-4
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.”