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Kate Light fuses music and poetry 

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On Kate Light's Web site, former national Poet Laureate Billy Collins says that Light's name is perfect for her because "the step of her poems is light."

The name's also apt because the poet wrote a recent series of poems inspired by Albert Einstein's theories on light.

In them, Light intermingles poetry about Einstein's life with poetry about Mozart. Light wrote the poetry to be read along with Mozart's String Quintet in Eb Major and the String Quartet in C Major.

The Colorado Chamber Players commissioned the piece from Light in 2005 to celebrate Mozart's 250th birthday (which occurred in 2006) as well as the 101st anniversary of Einstein's "miracle year," in which he published four great scientific papers.

The CCP, which will perform with Light, selected the two pieces because they were reportedly Einstein's favorite pieces of music.

The two geniuses were easy to put together, Light says, because "Einstein was grateful to the great men of the past and their insights that inspired him so much, including Mozart." She adds that this gratitude becomes one of the central themes in the piece, which tells several stories in the lives of each genius.

When the CCP sought a poet for the project, it found a perfect match with the New York-based Light, who's published three books of poetry and plays violin for the Opera Orchestra of New York. She says writing the material was as simple as reading biographical texts on the two geniuses until a passage inspired her.

"What I learned about myself is that if I immerse myself long enough, poetry will come, because poetry is my medium, my language," she says.

The sounds of Light's poems also exhibit her musical expertise. The meter and rhyme in a piece like "Friends of the Past" (about Mozart) help the words flow smoothly: "Though some of my patrons put on airs, all I want is one listener with capable ears."

But for Light, Einstein's Mozart wasn't only about the sounds of the poetry. She wanted to share the stories she felt best described the experiences of the two men, like the story of Mozart's childhood in "Traveling in Coach."

"I wanted to give a feeling about the touring Mozart did when he was 5 or 6," she says. "He was a little child prodigy on parade."

Light says that as she researched, she felt "unconscious work going on." Then, a form would come to her that fit the subject.

Being a musician and being interested in meter and form and loose meter also helps Light think in poetic form.

"You have different rhythms and templates floating around in your mind," she says, "and that material gloms onto a format. It just happens with these poems. Like music, they have different templates."




Einstein's Mozart: Two Geniuses,
by Kate Light and the Colorado Chamber Players
Colorado College's Packard Hall, 5 W. Cache la Poudre St.
Wednesday, Feb. 20, 7:30 p.m.
Free; for more information, call 389-6607 or visit coloradocollege.edu.
  • Light creates a narrative Einstein could love.

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