Pianist, poet, columnist lead cultural offerings in September

With some 1,700 students back on campus, Bates College is geared up for an autumn packed with public events in the arts and humanities. Events at Bates in September include appearances by outspoken journalist Christopher Hitchens, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Carl Dennis and pianist Jon Nakamatsu.

In an event of regional interest, the iconoclastic Hitchens presents a lecture at 4:10 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25 in Pettengill Hall. Hitchens is a contributor to such British newspapers as The Guardian and to a variety of American publications, including Vanity Fair, The Atlantic and The Nation, for which he is the longtime Washington correspondent. “Well-travelled, hyper-educated . . . [and] always funny,” wrote the Village Voice Literary Supplement, “Christopher Hitchens has no equal in American journalism.”

Later that day, at 8 p.m. in Chase Hall Lounge, poet Carl Dennis reads from his work. Dennis won this year’s Pulitzer Prize in poetry for Practical Gods (Penguin, 2001), his eighth collection of verse and one that seeks to explore ordinary life in terms of religious mythology both biblical and pagan. A recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, Dennis teaches at the State University of New York in Buffalo. In 2000 he received the Ruth Lilly Prize from Poetry Magazine and the Modern Poetry Association for his contribution to American poetry.

In music, September’s biggest music story at Bates is a performance by pianist Jon Nakamatsu, opening the five-concert 2002-2003 Bates College Concert Series at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 29. A California native and former high school German teacher, Nakamatsu became the 10th gold medalist in the prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 1997 — the only American gold medalist since 1981. A popular and critical favorite whom one reviewer called a “poet of the keyboard,” Nakamatsu performs works by Joseph Woelfl, Schubert, Mendelssohn and Brahms in his Maine debut (admission: $7/$5).

Also among Bates’ musical offerings in September is the diverse, free-admission Noonday Concerts series, held at 12:30 p.m. every Tuesday (resuming Sept. 10), and a concert featuring wind players from Maine’s own Midcoast Symphony Orchestra at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, also free of charge. All concerts listed here will be held in the Olin Arts Center Concert Hall.

Three art exhibitions open in September, with one featuring work by a Maine resident. Transforming Silence/Translating Light comprises photographs by Will Richard, who owns Outdoor Ventures North, Inc., and teaches at the University of New England and the University of Southern Maine. Richard, a Mellon Fellow in residence in the Bates environmental studies program this semester, shows images of Maine, the Arctic and the Antarctic in the Lower Gallery of the Bates College Museum of Art from Sept. 6 through Oct. 16. He’ll talk about his images at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13, just prior to the opening reception for the exhibit.

In the museum’s Upper Gallery through the same period is Dirt Piles, encompassing works on paper and sculptures inspired by earthen mounds. The artist, Grace Knowlton, lives in Rockland County, N.Y., and has worked since the 1960s as a painter, sculptor and photographer. Her work is in the collections of Bates College, the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among others, and she has exhibited nationally. Knowlton discusses her work at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6, just prior to the opening reception for the exhibit.

Finally, Oregon painter-printmaker Betty LaDuke shows giclée prints at the Bates College Chapel in an exhibit titled Surviving War, Dreaming Home: Images of War, Displacement, and Peace from Eritrea and Ethiopia. An accomplished activist and teacher as well as artist, LaDuke’s images encompass themes of war and peace in the African nations of Eritrea and Ethiopia, which she visits annually. “Giclée” is a digital process with great advantages in beauty, quality and durability. Surviving War, Dreaming Home shows Sept. 23-Nov. 15.

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