© 2024 NPR Illinois
The Capital's Community & News Service
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Vachel Lindsay's poem on Lincoln inspires a song and a festival

Lincoln festival promotion

The Springfield Choral Society and UIS Music, in partnership with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, the Springfield & Central Illinois African-American History Museum, and Vachel Lindsay Home State Historic Site will be presenting “Abraham Lincoln Walks At Midnight: A Springfield Festival” on February 22-24.

At the center of the festival is a cantata for chorus and orchestra by the Black Chicagoan composer Florence Price, set to the famous poem “Abraham Lincoln Walks At Midnight” by Springfield native Vachel Lindsay. This major work of Price’s was long thought lost, before its manuscript was discovered in a dilapidated and vandalized home on the outskirts of Chicago in 2009. Now it will be performed for the very first time in its home state of Illinois.

The festival will open on Thursday, Feb. 22nd with “Don’t Tell Me No: The Life of Florence Price in Story and Song.” This biographical concert will interweave Florence’s life story, narrated by Reggie Guyton and Tiffany Williams, with her beautiful music for voices, presented by ensembles of the Springfield Choral Society. 7:30pm at the First Presbyterian Church of Springfield.

The African-American History Museum will play host to an event on Friday, Feb. 23rd at 6:30pm: “In Our Little Town: A Musical Conversation about Race.” Surrounded by the rich exhibits of the museum, a distinguished panel of speakers will be joined by musicians of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, alternating discussion on questions of race with selections of Florence Price’s music for string quartet. Capacity for this event is limited to 100 attendees, so reservations are required, and can be made online (Event RSVP) or via email (springfieldchoralsociety@gmail.com). At 5:30pm, prior to the event, a special guided tour of the museum’s exhibit will be offered.

Saturday afternoon at 1:30, 2:30, and 3:30pm, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources will present “Lincoln Walks at the Lindsay Home.” State Historic Sites Interpreter Sheila Ryan will guide visitors on a special half-hour tour of the Vachel Lindsay Home, exploring the creation and context of the poem “Abraham Lincoln Walks At Midnight.” Reservations are suggested but not required, and can be made online: https://LincolnWalksatVLH.eventbrite.com

And finally, the festival will culminate on the evening of Saturday, Feb. 24th with the Illinois premiere of Price’s cantata. 7:30pm at the UIS Performing Arts Center.

Admission to all festival events is free.

Related Stories