Berkeley Symphony Performs LITERARY SOUNDSCAPES Next Month

The performance is on Saturday, March 23 at 7:30 p.m.

By: Feb. 07, 2024
Berkeley Symphony Performs LITERARY SOUNDSCAPES Next Month

Berkeley Symphony, led by Music Director Joseph Young, will present Literary Soundscapes on Saturday, March 23 at 7:30 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley (2407 Dana Street, Berkeley 94704). The enchantment of musical storytelling takes center stage as Berkeley Symphony presents a captivating concert bringing literature to life. Literary Soundscapes is the third of four Symphonic Series performances and will feature Nicholas Phan (Tenor), Clairedee (Jazz Vocals), Arianna Rodriguez (Soprano), Olivia Johnson (Mezzo-Soprano), and Wendel Patrick (narrator). General Admission tickets are $40 and are available now at or by calling the box office at 510.841.2800.

Literary Soundscapes features the West Coast premiere of Joel Puckett's There Was a Child Went Forth, featuring the tenor Nicholas Phan, to whom the piece is dedicated. Puckett's orchestral song cycle was inspired by Walt Whitman's poetic childhood account. The whimsical Overture to Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream captures the magical essence of one of Shakespeare's most revered comedies. These works are bookended by an extraordinary fusion of Langston Hughes' epic poem and Laura Karpman's interdisciplinary creation, Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz, Part 1 and Part 3, conveying a rich blend of American voices. Karpman adapted the musical direction from Hughes's 1961 poem, maintaining the essence of the funny, political, genre-bending piece.

“At the heart of this program is music that transcends genre and time period to pay homage to musical evolution and shared experiences,” says Joseph Young, Music Director of Berkeley Symphony. “Joel Puckett's There Was a Child Went Forth transports us back to childhood—the world needs some of that wonder right now. Laura Karpman's iconic setting of Langston Hughes' jazz-poetry reminds us that we can jam to poetry, jazz, and hip hop, and we can honor orchestral music at the same time. And Mendelssohn's playful take on Shakespeare invites us to dream. This music is an eclectic mix that I hope Bay Area audiences find relatable and refreshing.”

Ticketholders can arrive early for a free pre-concert chat moderated by Berkeleyside journalist Andrew Gilbert. The informative and engaging talk will provide fascinating insights into the music of Literary Soundscapes. The expert speakers will discuss the program's cultural and historical context, along with guided listening. Additionally, there will be live interviews with guest artists, composers, and orchestra musicians.

For more information about the featured artists in Literary Soundscapes,visit