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"Where Words and Music Meet"
Colleen O'Brien - voice / cello
Chris Lee - vibes / percussion


PoetryMusic is a world class chamber jazz duo dedicated to performing poetry that has been set to music and the poetry is sung.

This multi-media performance includes an accompanying slide presentation with each poem projected on the screen along with photographic images so that the audience can follow the written word with the poem being sung. Following the program, we open the floor up to questions, comments and discussion.

A sample performance may include -

•    Several original compositions set to Japanese and Chinese poems by Li Po, Toshiyuki and others. Four poems of Emily Dickinson and Rumi's 'Where Everything's Music'

•   Two wonderful settings of Shakespeare's Sonnet 130 (My Mistress' Eyes) and Sonnet 60 (Like As The Waves) by Mark Miller and Sonnet 43 ( When Most My Eyes Do Wink ) by Rufus Wainright.
•    American poet Robert Creely has had many of his poems set to music by jazz bassist Steve Swallow. We perform two of these;  Echo and She was Young.
•    The amazing young English composer/arranger Jacob Collier's setting of "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost.
•    Zen/ Beat poet Gary Snyder provides the inspiration for a voice and percussion improvisation on his poem Wave. Also a beautiful paean to America from Jack            
     Kerouac's last paragraph of On The Road set to music by composer Peter Sommer.
•   Composer/ Pianist Fred Hersch's beautiful setting from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass - 'The Sleepers'.

Other poets include e.e. cummings, Archibald Macleish, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Pablo Neruda, Ranier Rilke, Robert Bly and Paula Sergi.



Reviews / References
"I can highly recommend PoetryMusic with musicians Chris Lee and Colleen O'Brien. If you like jazz and if you like poetry, this program is an incredible blend of the two.  Chris plays the vibraphone, box drum and frame drum, while Colleen plays the cello and has a deep resonant voice perfect for jazz-style vocals.  The lyrics are poems, everything from Maya Angelou to Robert Frost to Kerouac to Shakespeare!!  Beautifully rendered into song and music, and supported by words and photography cast on a screen behind the performers.  My audience was transfixed.  We all felt we experienced something very special and unique.  The music and performance revealed new layers of meaning for the chosen poetry and literature.  What a remarkable fusion of literature and music. "

Tina Smith
Stevenson/North Bonneville Community Librarian

"Their program is a perfect blend of library and the arts. Great literature set to the jazz-like melodies. The audience expressed enthusiastic appreciation for this wonderfully crafted presentation of poetry and music. Bravo!"

Kathy Nixon, Manager
Northwest Santa Rosa Library

“Just Fantastic across the board! What a special treasure to start our library's new year of programming.”

Shirley Wible
Sun City Branch, CA Librarian

"Chris Lee and Colleen O’Brien recently presented a wonderful program for the Fallbrook Branch of the San Diego County Library. Our community audience truly enjoyed this remarkable fusion of literature and music. "

Girija Karamcheti, MA, MLIS Librarian, Adult Services

"The blending of the words and music make a powerful statement in the hands of these two gifted musicians. Their interpretation of the work, is what makes this ensemble highly successful. The orchestrations are  beautifully crafted allowing the emotional content of this collaboration of words and music to soar, to become meaningful to each and every listener in his/her own way. Although there are only two musicians, their musicality shines bright and gives this duo both strength and vulnerability. They bring to each and every performance a deep thought felt understanding of the material. Their execution brings focus, personalizing these compositions in a truly unique way, never losing the essence of the creation. A creation it is, a joy to experience."

Michael Vlatkovich - Los Angeles based composer / trombonist

"Thank you again for performing for our community at Foster City. Your blend of music and poetry was a very lovely way to introduce people to both arts. I appreciated your choice of poetry too--it was a good selection of American standards, but they weren't too familiar."
Cynthia Rider - Librarian

“Chris and Colleen were a delight to work with from scheduling to take-down and their performance was sublime. They built an instant rapport with the audience. The Music in Poetry program offered a way to connect with poetry through beautiful, touching, fun, energetic, and soulful music."
Adrienne Doman Calkins
Library Manager, Sherwood Public Library

On August 29, 2015 the Loveland Public Library had the pleasure of hosting musicians Chris Lee and Colleen O’Brien as they presented Music In Poetry: Where Words and Music Meet.  We don’t always get the chance to host a chamber jazz performance in the library, especially one that successfully expresses such a rich tapestry of thoughtfulness in musical (and poetic) material and performance craft.  The compositions were at times serious, sultry, buoyant, playful, pensive, or melancholy, depending on the poetic text, while the balance of compositional craft and improvisational freedom was perfect.  Library patrons love their poetry so who wouldn’t like to hear jazz inspired by Shakespeare, Li Po, or Kerouac?  Really amazing!  The solos were highly exploratory while at the same time never overstepped the weight of each composition.  Plenty of swing to go around too!  Colleen’s voice and cello were a perfect timbrel match and her ability to combine intense focus and light-hearted playfulness was refreshing.  Chris on vibes and percussion gave the whole evening a glassy shimmer and swing and his ability to improvise in and out of the margins of tonality really showed his thorough harmonic mastery. Bravissimo all around!  If they decide to visit Northern Colorado again we are definitely having them back.  We had a great turnout and look forward to stage another top-shelf performance by Chris and Colleen.  –Robert Ayala, Librarian II, Adult Services, Loveland Public Library

Past Performances 2014-16

Pueblo Library - Pueblo, CO
Reynolds Branch - Boulder, CO
Bozeman Library - Bozeman, MT
Lacy Timberland Library - Lacy, WA
Stevenson Library - Stevenson, WA
Multnomah County Library - Portland, OR
Bay City Arts Center - Bay City, OR
Siuslaw Public Library, - Florence, OR
North Bend Library - North Bend, OR
Langlois Library - Langlois, OR
Curry Public Library - Gold Beach, OR

Willits Library - Willits, CA
Round Valley Public Library - Covelo, CA
Ukiah Public Library - Ukiah, CA
Sonoma County Library - Santa Rosa, CA

Pacifica Sharp Park Library, - Pacifica, CA
Northwest Santa Rosa Library - Santa Rosa, CA
Ceasar Chavez Library - Salinas
, CA
Arroyo Grande Library, - Arroyo Grande, CA
Ojai Library - Ojai, CA
Julian Library - Julian,CA

Fallbrook Library - Fallbrook, CA
Sun City Library - Menifee, CA
Rancho San Diego Library  - El Cajon, CA
Bonita-Sunnyside Library - Bonita, CA
Encinitas Library - Encinitas, CA
Laguna Beach Library - Laguna Beach, CA
Oxnard Library - Oxnard, CA
Kaufman-Brentwood Branch - Los Angeles, CA
A.K. Smiley Public Library - Redlands, CA
Fairway Branch Library - Phoenix, AZ
Goodyear Branch Library - Phoenix, AZ
SE Regional Branch Library - Phoenix, AZ
Queens Creek Branch Library - Phoenix, AZ
Robeson Branch Library - Phoenix, AZ
El Mirage Branch Library - Phoenix, AZ
Prescott Public Library - Prescott , AZ
Clark County Library - Las Vegas, NV
Summerlin Branch Library - Las Vegas, NV
Boulder City Library - Boulder City, NV
Morro Bay Library - Morro Bay, CA
Granite Bay Library - Granite Bay, CA
Foresthill Library - Foresthill, CA
Napa County Library - Napa, CA
Foster City Library - Foster City, CA
Carson City Library - Carson City, NV
Medford Library - Medford, OR
KALA - Astoria, OR
Hoffman Center For The Arts - Manzanita, OR
Beaverton City Library - Beaverton, OR
Sherwood Center For The Arts - Sherwood, OR
Cedar Mill Library - Portland, OR
Salem Public Library - Salem, OR
Vancouver Community Library - Vancouver, WA
Key Center Library - Lakebay, WA
White Center Library - Seattle, WA
Sylvan Way Branch Library- Bremerton, WA
Richland Public Library - Richland, WA
Craig Public Library- Craig, Alaska
Thorn Bay Library - Thorn Bay, AK
Ketchikan Library - Ketchikan, AK
Kettleson Memorial Library - Sitka, AK
McPhetres Hall - Juneau, AK
The Outpost/Cammalou Studio - Gustavas, AK
Skagway Public Library - Skagway, AK
Loussec Public Library - Anchorage, AK
Gerrish Public Library -Girdwood, AK
Delta Community Library - Delta Junction, AK
Kalispell ImagineIf Library - Kalispell, MT
East Helena Library - East Helena, MT
Augusta Community Library - Augusta, MT
Loveland Library - Loveland, CO
West Side Books - Denver, CO
Koelbel Library - Centennial, CO
Parkside Gallery - La Veta, CO
Mary Stigall Theater - Lake City, CO
Grand County Public Library - Moab, UT
Montrose Regional Library - Montrose, CO
Penrose Library - Colorado Springs, CO
Tacoma Library - Tacoma, WA
Aberdeen Library - Aberdeen, WA
Tillamook Library - Tillamook, OR
Driftwood Library - Lincoln City, OR
Newport Library - Newport, OR
Lake Oswego Library - Lake Oswego, OR
Port Angeles Library - Port Angeles, WA
University Place Library - Tacoma, WA
Shoreline Library - Shoreline, WA
New Start High School - Seattle, WA
Skykomish School - Skykomish, WA
Renton Library- Renton, WA
Burien Library - Burien, WA
Anacortes Library - Anacortes, WA
Foothills Branch - Salt Lake City, UT
Sprague - Salt Lake City, UT
Rialto Theater - Loveland , CO
Sequoya - Madison, WI
Ashman - Madison, WI
Sadoff Center For The Arts, - Fon du Lac, WI
Pollard Memorial Library - Lowell, MA
Springfield Library - Springfield, MA
Jones Library - Amherst, MA
Kingston Library - Kingston, NY
Adriance Library - Poughkeepsie, NY
Central Library - Rochester, NY 
Irondequoit Library - Rochester, NY
Bennington College - Bennington, VT