'Dead Man Walking' composer is featured guest of festival

10:55:10 AM CDT - Thursday, March 27, 2003

The featured composer for this year's WSU Contemporary Music Festival, being held March 31-April 3, will be Jake Heggie, who wrote the acclaimed opera version of "Dead Man Walking." Scenes from the opera with commentary by the composer will be presented on March 31, and five concerts of chamber music, including songs by Heggie, will take place during the festival.

"Dead Man Walking" has been said to have the same profound impact on the theatrical world as Bernstein's "West Side Story" some 40 years ago. The opera is based on the true story of the Louisiana nun, Sister Helen Prejean. The best-seller story was also made into an Academy Award-winning film. In the opera, Sister Helen is spiritual adviser to defiant death row inmate Joseph DeRocher. Together, they make an extraordinary journey through conflict, pain and grief as Sister Helen helps Joseph find his way to the truth. In finally accepting responsibility for his crime, he is able to experience the redemptive power of love.

The March 31 concert, featuring the "Dead Man Walking" scenes, will be held at 7:30 p.m. in Miller Concert Hall. The festival's other evening concerts will be held at 7:30 p.m. April 1, 2, and 3 in Wiedemann Recital Hall. Tickets for the evening concerts are $5 with discounts available. Call 978-3233 for reservations.

The two afternoon concerts at 1:30 p.m. April 1 and 3 in Wiedemann Hall are free.

Heggie will also do two free, public meet-the-composer sessions on April 2 in Duerksen Fine Arts Center. At 12:30 p.m. he'll talk to aspiring composers and at 2:15 p.m. he'll talk to young writers.

This is the WSU School of Music's 13th annual Contemporary Music Festival.

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