Almost a year after his much-appreciated solo Legation guitar concert, Dr. David Asbury was back in Tangier with fellow Southwestern University prof Dr. Bruce Cain, tenor. Actually, despite the tautogrammatic title of this post, the duo was anything but staidly professorial.
True to their university's paideia (or interdisciplinary) philosophy, Asbury and Cain explained their repertoire's origins, including the "River of Words" program, which promotes environmental literacy through the arts among schoolchildren. "ROW" has illustrious connections, including American poet-laureates and the Library of Congress. Its annual poetry and art contest – now worldwide – "inspires children ages 5 to 19 to translate their observations into creative expression."
In fact, the first two selections from Cain & Asbury's River of Words collection were from poems written by a seven-year old and an eleven-year old. Asbury and Cain have pioneered setting the children's poetry to music in their "River of Words Song Cycle," and there is something magical about primary school verse set to modern vocal music for an adult audience – nothing childish about it at all.
With works in English and Spanish (including those of Federico Garcia Lorca) and compositions by Native Americans, the Cain-Asbury concert was truly appreciated by the Legation's multinational audience.
Southwestern University certainly got value out of their professional development investment in Professors Cain and Asbury's trip to Morocco. Prior to their pro-bono Legation concert, they had performed in Rabat's "Festival International des Cordes Pincées," the 20th edition of this gathering for "plucked instruments," as the sole American offering.
We were honored to introduce them and "River of Words" to the Tangier audience.