Lantern in a Poet's Garden, The Shepherdstown Chronicle, 2010

 

‘Lantern in a Poet’s Garden’ sure to please

Musician/composer Terry Tucker shines more than light on the poet’s garden. On her latest CD, she pro- vides a triumphant renaissance for poems penned by two prominent Jefferson County residents more than a century ago with songs that alternately tug at the heart’s strings and inspire one’s own spirited romp in the woods. “Lantern in a Poet’s Garden” is classical music spun with words that dazzle, and it is nothing short of brilliant.

A long time resident of Shepherdstown, Terry began the project nearly a decade ago, when a friend gave her copies of poems by Danske Bedinger Dandridge. Terry recalls being so captivated by Danske’s words that she stayed up all night composing the music to seven of the poems. It was a gut-wrenching experi- ence, Terry remembers: “Sobbing as I played music that just kept flowing from my heart.” Years later, after reading the poems of Daniel Bedinger Lucas, Danske’s cousin, Terry composed music for two of
his works, also included on the CD. She went back to
Danske’s poetry and decided on the final two songs for the album which was released a few weeks ago.

The Bedinger kin had deep roots in Jefferson County. Both were prolific poets. Daniel, born in 1836, was
a lawyer who served, at different times, as a judge
and state legislator. Danske was born in 1854 and spent the first four years of her life in Copenhagen. Her father, Henry Bedinger III, a native of Jefferson County (then Virginia), was serving as U.S. ambassa- dor to Denmark. Despite her private schooling in other states, Rosebrake, a historic estate just south of Shep- herdstown, was home for most of her life. She was an avid gardener and diarist and published two books of poetry during her lifetime.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that the music in “Lantern in a Poet’s Garden” is classical, and the voice is folk. Classical folk — it’s about the only similarity among the 11 songs, written in nine different keys, and just about as many major as minor voices. Terry plays
the piano on all 11 songs, and 9 other local musi- cians perform on different cuts. Here a flute, there an African drum, a trombone, French horn, trumpet and strings — violin, cello, bass. Terry also sings all the songs, joined on many by Ardyth Gilbertson. The two women have been singing together a long time. In this CD, their harmony soars pitch-perfect to new heights, seeming, over and over again, to rise to the urgency or fantasy of the words.

In “Sympathy,” for instance, Terry solos into a falsetto higher than her usual alto, portraying the poet stoically reflecting her sadness. The softer-voiced mezzo-sopra- no, Ardyth, joins in almost as a lithesome echo when the first two stanzas are repeated. It’s as if Ardyth IS the other person in the poem, understanding and sup- portive. The voices glide beautifully together, poignant and resolute.

The women team up again in “The Fairy Camp,” a whimsical song that zooms along at tongue-twisting speed. In “The Stream and I,” Ardyth’s voice comes in briefly and at no more than a whisper – again, a bril- liant contrast, perfectly suited to the mood of the poem where the “stream and I” are, perhaps, one entity. Ar- dyth takes the lead on “Dreams”, and Terry takes the low road, back to alto territory. Her background notes add a subtle richness to one of Danske’s more upbeat poems.

Terry solos in “Folly-Land,” a reminiscence of a carefree childhood and prodding to return there (with, perhaps, her lover by her side). “The Struggle,” by contrast, is an anguished cry for death in no uncertain terms: “Body, I pray you, let me go!” Again, Terry solos from the heart, this time with a beautiful falsetto that cries for relief as much as the poet’s message. It is, perhaps, the strongest song on the album because the composer/singer has followed the poet into meta- physical territory.

“My Heart is in the Mountains” is a perfect ending for the album. The poem by Daniel Bedinger Lucas is cel- ebratory. Terry adds her own tribute to the mountains by composing the music to the finale in a major key, away from the sadness and heaviness of some of the earlier poems. The album over all is a journey into the soul of Danske Dandridge. It could be a journey into the soul of Terry Tucker as well. —by Judy Jenner

From the hundreds of poems by these prolific writers, Terry chose those that spoke to her in a most intimate way. Early on, she realized a common bond with Dan- ske — a love of nature that goes beyond the garden and into the woods of fairies and sunlight mystically streaming patterns around great-limbed trees. A native of Webster County, W. Va., Terry similarly spun her own childhood dreams amid the gardens, the moun- tains and the woods. She studied classical music at Wesleyan College in Buckhannon and has traveled

far and wide for a variety of musical experiences, as a lyricist, composer, and performer. At home with just about any genre of music, Terry most often is called a “folkie.” Although her first passion was classical music, it is the folk music of Appalachia “that’s in my blood,” she says with pride. 

 

Good News Paper, page 5

The Sound of Sunforest, Acme Gramophone/Lion, 2008

 

The Sound of Sunforest, Bruce Eder Rovi, Acme Gramophone/Lion, 2008

Sometimes it seems like there must have been something in the water (or the air) in England during 1969 that brought all of these folk musicians to the fore in rock music -- the two acoustic musicians from Methuselah break away to form the Amazing Blondel; Prelude starts their career; Mary Hopkin gives Apple Records its biggest non-Beatles hit (i.e., "Those Were the Days"); and, getting back to the subject at hand, Sunforest, a previously unknown folk-based trio (Terry Tucker, Erika Eigen, Freya Hogue) gets signed to Decca Records and cuts this album for the company's Nova imprint. And this is one strange album, to be sure, with wildly varying sounds and styles across its 15 tracks, from the lush harmony singing on "Be Like Me" to the lapses into novelty and children's songs on "Lady Next Door" and "Peppermint Store." When Sound of Sunforest is folky, it's mostly in a distinctly pop vein, but there's also a defiantly progressive current running through this entire album, as well -- the winds and reeds on the opening "Overture to the Sun" declare that this is no folk revival record, and the keyboard cadenza on "Be Like Me" carries the main body of the album into realms of classical-style exploration that most folk albums avoided. A small orchestra plays the opening bars of "And I Was Blue" behind the ethereal harmonies of the trio, before the core rock trio (Herbie Flowers, Big Jim Sullivan, et al.) takes over with a leaner folk-rock sound. And the trio lets their hair down for some plain lighthearted fun on "Lighthouse Keeper," a folk-cum-music hall number complete with kazoo that wouldn't have been out of place in the repertory of Spanky & Our Gang. Strangest of all in "Magician in the Mountain," an odd, jazz-tinged piece that would be the highlight of the record -- where Herbie Flowers and company get into a decided funk groove -- if it were only representative of the record. Instead, it isn't like anything else here, which doesn't detract from its value but limits one's ability to recommend the album, based on its presence. Needless to say, an album with so many diverse sounds wasn't going to get anywhere in 1969 without a hit single to draw people in, and Sound of Sunforest didn't have that. But it is a beautiful and entertaining artifact of its period as a production tour de force by the trio and producer Vic Smith (aka Vic Coppersmith-Heaven) -- and it might be the most daring psychedelic-cum-progressive record to show up on Decca this side of the Moody Blues' Days of Future Passed (another album that was outside of any stylistic category at the time of its release) Ah, those were, indeed, the days....

Lantern in a Poet's Garden, The Hagerstown Herald Mail

Shepherdstown musician sets poems to music

Terry Tucker's interest in Danske Bedinger Dandridge's poems led to

'Lantern in a Poet's Garden'

December 27, 2010|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com
  • Shepherdstown, W.Va., musician Terry Tucker, who wrote a song for director Stanley Kubrick's 1972 violent and futuristic film
By Richard B. Belisle/Staff Writer

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — Shepherdstown musician Terry Tucker, who wrote a song for director Stanley Kubrick's 1972 violent and futuristic film A Clockwork Orange, has released a new CD that puts to music the words of two late-19th- century poets.

Tucker became interested in the poetry of Danske Bedinger Dandridge, (1854-1914) and her poet cousin, Daniel Bedinger Lucas, both Jefferson County, WV natives.  Danske ('little Dane') was born in Denmark where her father, Henry Bedinger was the U.S. ambassador. Dandridge eventually owned Rose Brake, an antebellum brick home outside Shepherdstown.

Tucker's interest in Dandridge's poems led to Lantern in a Poet's Garden, her new CD released in October.  Nine of the album's songs are poems by Dandridge and two by her cousin.

"Like the poems, some of the music on the album is dark, some mystical, some playful and whimsical," Tucker said. "It's classical  and folk, mostly on piano, cello and bass."

Of the nine Dandridge poems on the album, "Wings" is the shortest and most poignant.

"Shall we know in the Hereafter all the reasons that are hid?  Does the butterfly remember what the caterpillar did?  How he waited, toiled and suffered to become the chrysalid."

Terry's career as a songwriter, musician and performer got its start in London in the late 1960s, when she wrote and performed with two friends, Erika Eigen and Freya Hogue. The three met earlier in Washington, D.C.  "We became a band," said Tucker, who grew up in Webster Springs, W.Va. The group performed around London and occasionally in Europe for about three years.

They cut an album titled The Sound of Sunforest, taken from the band's name, Sunforest.  Twice profiled in a glossy British music magazine, Record Collector, the album is a collector's item, Tucker said.

"Overture to the Sun", an instrumental on the album penned by Tucker and "I Want to Marry a Lighthouse Keeper," a song by Erika Eigen came to Kubrick's attention when he heard it.

"He called our manager and asked if he could use both pieces in A Clockwork Orange," she said.

Tucker said she still receives royalties from the music, "but they only come in in dribs and drabs."

After Sunforest split up, Tucker remained in London and continued to write music, some for the BBC World Service radio and television teaching programs.

She returned to the United States and settled in Shepherdstown, then Seattle for about five years, where she taught elementary school music and performed again with Hogue.  "We hosted a weekly folk music show," and played some festivals." she said.

She came back to West Virginia and Shepherdstown in 2000. She performs in the area and gives private piano lessons.

In 2006, she and fellow musician Ardyth Gilbertson produced a Christmas album titled Ancient Ayers & Carols for Christmas.

The Sound of Sunforest, Record Collector magazine

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