I've got a couple of things to add to my November Hot List, things you may want to pencil in the ol' datebook.
Numero uno: Kathleen Kirk has let me know that several poets associated with Finishing Line Press will be offering a free poetry reading at the Normal Public Library on Sunday, November 21, in the Community Room (where the very popular Young at Heartland event was held last Friday). The event is already on the calendar at the library website if you want more information.
There are three poets attending and reading: Tim Hunt, the author of Redneck Yoga; Kathryn Kerr, the author of Turtles All the Way Down; and Kathleen Kirk, the author of Living on the Earth. All three are local to Bloomington-Normal and have published chapbooks with Finishing Line Press.
This is a free event with refreshments as well as books on sale and the authors available to sign their books. Their poetry will make excellent Christmas gifts for friends and family who are poetry lovers, readers, or writers, or just like to support their friendly neighborhood artists!
The second event I wanted to make sure everybody knew about is part of the year-long celebration of Stephen Sondheim's 80th birthday. Last March, the New York Philharmonic held something called "Sondheim: The Birthday Concert," which was filmed to air on PBS as part of the "Great Performances" series. It looks like it will be broadcast on most PBS stations on November 24th, although you'll need to check local listings as it gets a little closer.
This celebration concert included some of Sondheim's most famous music from COMPANY, FOLLIES, A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC and INTO THE WOODS, among others, as well as pieces from Sondheim's score for the movie REDS. Performers include Broadway superstars like Laura Benanti, Michael Cerveris, Victoria Clark, Joanna Gleason, George Hearn, Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald, Donny Murphy, Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters.
Longtime Sondheim musical director Paul Gemignani conducted the New York Philharmonic for this concert, while TV and Broadway star David Hyde Pierce acted as host.
Along with the cast recording for last spring's SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM, the new DVD of EVENING PRIMROSE and the book FINISHING THE HAT: Collected Lyrics (1954-1981) with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes, by Mr. Sondheim himself, this PBS broadcast is a great way to celebrate the birthday of this musical theater luminary.