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Eugenia Zuckerman and Claire Bloom

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People have been setting poetry to music since at least the days of the ancient Greeks, but in the salons of late-19th-century Paris, poetry readings and chamber music were more often scheduled side by side--and about seven years ago, flutist Eugenia Zukerman and actress Claire Bloom began reviving this practice. Other performers have mounted similar ventures, but few have carried it off with such panache and conviction. Both women are commanding presences, poised and graceful; when Bloom reads, you believe every word she says. They established reputations in their respective fields long ago: Zukerman, a native of Massachusetts, burst on the scene in the 1960s as a newly minted Juilliard grad, and the London-born Bloom became an international star in 1952 thanks to a role in Chaplin's film Limelight. They've been friends and collaborators for many years, even crossing into each other's territory: Bloom regularly appears as a narrator in orchestral programs, and Zukerman is a longtime arts correspondent for CBS News Sunday Morning. As a recital flutist, Zukerman ranks among the best in the world; her gossamer sound, effortless agility, and suave insouciance are particularly suited to the French repertoire, which unsurprisingly makes up nearly half this program, with selections by Debussy, Messiaen, and Satie. Each of the concert's seven sections pairs a musical work with a related text; highlights include excerpts from Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream (followed by snippets of Shakespeare's play), Messiaen's Le merle noir (followed by Wallace Stevens's "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird"), and arrangements of Chinese and Japanese folk songs (followed by a selection of Chinese and Japanese poetry, in translations by Ezra Pound and Kenneth Rexroth). The piano accompanist is Rachelle Jonck. Friday, November 16, 8 PM, Recital Hall, Fine Arts Center, Northeastern Illinois University, 5500 N. St. Louis; 773-442-4636. A conversation with the performers begins at 7 PM.

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