When Banning historian and musician Bill Bell sees poetry from Edythe Hope Genee, he hears music.
Genee was publisher and editor of the defunct Hollywood publication The American Bard literary magazine.
But Bell enjoys discovering obscure writers and translating their words into music.
Her poems “Little Boy Lost” from “Brief Aprils” and “Strange Violins” from “Sequins for Calico” will be among the compositions performed during his upcoming Nov. 24 show “Art Songs: An Old Musical Form With A New Face,” featuring Bell’s own original compositions paired with the poetry of Genee, and the infamous — if not as obscure to contemporary crowds — Banning’s own late eccentric genius Sadakichi Hartmann, as well as more recognized pieces from the likes of Langston Hughes and Robert Burns.
Art song as a style is an archaic one, created literally by putting music to poems, and performed usually with a piano accompanist.
“It was traditional to the Romantic period” of the 1880s, Bell says. “Parlor music that occasionally would make its way to become a concert, in which the compositions are written to a previously written text.”
Bell has written a dozen such songs for his concert, which will be held at the Dorothy Ramon Learning Center, 127 No. San Gorgonio Ave. in Banning on Sunday, Nov. 24, starting at 3 p.m. Admission is $10.
There will be performances by soprano Penny Quinn, alto Hannah Nyala, Michael Hicks on bass, Don Strandberg performing vocals and guitar, Eddie Young on cello and bass, and Mark Berris on percussion.
Bill Bell will accompany on piano, and will intersperse the afternoon with performances on violin and fiddle.