The Cole Porter-Morris Arts Connection

A Cole Porter Companion coverA little known fact: our own Dr. Lynn L. Siebert is a scholar of Cole Porter’s music who pioneered the first musicological examination of Porter’s music and wrote the analytical chapter on Porter’s 1948 masterpiece, Kiss Me, Kate,  for the recently published A Cole Porter Companion (Univ. of Illinois Press, 2016).

On March 15, 2017, Dr. Susan Forscher Weiss (Professor of Musicology at the Peabody Conservatory and John Hopkins University), joined by her fellow co-editor Dr. Matthew Shaftel (Dean of Westminster College of the Arts at Rider University), and Cole Porter scholar Dr. Lynn Laitman Siebert (Director of Arts Participation and Communication at Morris Arts) shared background on the book project and their insights into the 11 Porter songs  beautifully performed by sopranos Melissa Wimbish and Sarah Berger, with pianist Choo Choo Hu (all Peabody Conservatory graduates).

The magnificent Evergreen House Library and Museum was once the private home of the Garretts, who were close friends of the Porters.  With its own concert hall on the upper floor, Evergreen House was an especially fitting setting for a Cole Porter program.  The standing room only audience was highly enthusiastic and engaged, even joining in an impromptu sing-along (Porter’s Don’t Fence Me In) at the end of the program! Q & A extended into the following reception and book signing in the elegant rooms on the main level below.  

Here are some photos:

Some reviews of the book:

“A Cole Porter Companion is simply an indispensable, unadulterated joy of a book–required reading for anyone who loves music, lyrics, the theater, and of course the inimitable Cole Porter–from the non-music-reading fan to the most sophisticated and scholarly musicologist. A landmark volume, bridging the gap between academe and the general listener with a bubbly élan worthy of the master himself.” –Maury Yeston

“Is there a need for a book like this, a compendium of essays by scholars and experts in musicology, music history and sundry ancillary specialties? The answer is an emphatic yes… To return to Irving Berlin, ‘ya don’t need any larning’ to appreciate this most sophisticated and well educated of American songwriters, but the huge amount of detail and analysis packed into this book enhances that appreciation.”–The Washington Times

Here is the description of the event from Evergree/Johns Hopkins:

House Beautiful Lectures: A Cole Porter Companion
by Evergreen Museum & Library

… A Cole Porter Companion (University of Illinois Press, 2016) sets the stage for a recreation of Evergreen evenings long ago with the great Mr. Porter, his wife (and Alice Warder Garrett confidante) Linda, and their friends gathered about a piano. Hosted by the book’s co-editor, Dr. Susan Forscher Weiss, this evening entails little-known stories about the master tunesmith’s life and art, interspersed with performances of timeless Cole Porter songs.


 Cole Porter entertaining - from Evergreen House publicity

 Cole Porter (at piano) entertaining