Library & Cultural Arts Programs
"Poetry and music may share a lineage, and centuries of influencing one another, but each seems heightened when they come together as harmoniously as they do in the work of Jamie O’Reilly and Michael P. Smith. Music takes life in the world of images and words, and poetry, led by strings and embodied in sonorous voice, finds a way more readily, more surely into the invisible, indelible reaches of the heart." -Stephen Young The Poetry Foundation
Powerful concerts for your literary programming
“Together their musical palette is pretty astonishing”
Jamie O’Reilly and Michael Smith present a variety of programs.
Michael Smith as a soloist accompanying himself on guitar
Download Michael Smith Recommendation
And the Poet Sang
A concert created for the Poetry Foundation, gives a new face to some of Jamie, Michael and Peter’s finest material: folk songs and art songs, with melodies by Smith and others.
Settings of poets ranging from Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral, Wallace Stevens, Bertold Brecht, F. Garcia Lorca and Anne Carson and Chicago poets David Hernandez and the late Patricia Monaghan are heard. Settings from Shulamite women of Lebanon, ancient Irish and Chinese poets are among the selections songs from their folk cabarets Pasiones: Songs of the Spanish Civil War and Hello Dali: From the Sublime to the Surreal are also featured.
I Know Where I’m Going is the remastered first solo album of vocalist Jamie O’Reilly performed at the Oak Park Librayr in Oct 2015, to an SRO crowd. Accompanied by guitarist Peter Swenson, Jamie sang this collection of beloved Irish ballads on heels of her vocal debut at Orchestra Hall. 11 songs were recorded at WFMT Studio in 1984, with Rich Warren as engineer and Anne Hills as producer. 2 additional songs were recorded at WFMT this summer, with Jamie, Peter and special guest Michael Smith on guitar. On CD Baby.com, I-Tunes and Amazon!
Jamie O’Reilly and Michael Smith present Epitaphs and Apparitions
Epitaphs and Apparitions: Americana for Halloween
An ensemble of readers embody voices from the beyond in selections of end of life and afterlife stories as rendered by Masters of American 19 and early 20c literature and drama. Among the authors: Civil war soldier Sullivan Ballou, novelist Willa Cather, poet Emily Dickinson, essayist William Dean Howells, plus Zora Neale Hurston, Katherine Ann Porter, Washington Irving, Edgar Lee Masters, Herman Melville, Louisa May Alcott, Edgar Allan Poe and more. Conceived and directed by Jamie O’Reilly. Features Americana songs and Michael’s original pieces.
Epitaphs and Apparitions and the Wintry Guest
READ The Wintry Guest program – Google Docs
Jamie O’Reilly and Michael Smith present Epitaphs, Apparitions, and the Wintry Guest
An ensemble of readers embody voices from the beyond in ghost stories, poems and songs, as rendered by the Brits: the Bard, and Masters of American literature. Among them: Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, Willa Cather, Amy Lowell, Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens, Dylan Thomas, and Noel Coward. With traditional and original music by Michael Smith.
Conceived and directed by Jamie O’’Reilly with Belinda Bremner.
Gifted Guitarist Peter Swenson joins the ensemble
adding a lovely lyrical accompaniment.
“A Voice for the Soul of the City”, Vocalist and Activist Jamie O’Reilly got her start singing Irish songs in the 80s with Jamie O’Reilly and the Rogues. By 1990, she’d moved to solo work and became established in Chicago area theaters and cultural venues. Jamie began her creative collaboration with award-winning songwriter and guitarist Michael Smith in 1994, performing and recording songs he wrote and arranged for her. Michael has been called “one of the best songwriters in the English language” and his rich career history spans five decades as a touring artist in the US and Canada.
Jamie and Michael are regularly heard on the Midnight Special on WFMT Fine Arts radio. They have recorded five CD albums together.
With their shared love of language, and expansive musical palette Jamie and Michael create new work on a constant basis and are never at a loss for material. They created a niche for themselves as creators of the folk-cabaret form, and their work is commissioned by the finest cultural institutions, The Lunar Cabaret, (a performance hot-spot in the 1990s in Chicago’s Lincoln Park) became the launching pad for Pasiones: Songs of the Spanish Civil War, Hello Dali and Scarlet Confessions.
The Chicago Humanities Festival and DePaul University provided a context for Songs of the Kerry Madwoman, an anti-war piece and original song cycle. Songpainting, an epilogue to Hello Dali, features material honoring local visual artists. The Gift of the Magi is their holiday show.
In their collaboration Songs of a Catholic Childhood, Jamie and Michael feature personal stories and musical selections from the soundtrack that accompanied their formative years: Michael’s in the working class Irish/Italian neighborhoods of post-WWII in New Jersey – Jamie’s as one of 14 kids, in the post-Vatican II-Baby Boom era, outside Chicago. A live CD recording of the show is now available. Two programs: Epitaphs and Apparitions (for Chicago Artist Month) and Epitaphs and Apparitions and The Wintry Guest (for RhinoFest 2015) featured American and English authors end of life and ghost stories, and Michael’s original compositions.
Instrumentation and number on stage: 2 vocals, 1 guitar plus optional soloist
Program length: 1 hour ten
Cost: Negotiable based on venue, numbers of artists
SONGLISTS AND PROGRAMS
Flowering Henna: poem by the Shulamite Women of Lebanon
additional lyrics by Jamie O’Reilly
Epitaph: by Robert Louis Stevenson
Blue Guitar: poem The Man with the Blue Guitar by Wallace Stevens
Seurat: from an essay by Anne Carson
Lament of Ignacio Meijes or Five in the Afternoon: poem by F. Garcia Lorca (Spain)
Song of the United Front: Lyrics by Bertold Brecht; Music by Ernst Busch
performed with Questions from a Worker Who Reads: a poem by Brecht
Asturias: a traditional Spanish anthem (listen Asturias)
The Dead Sleep Cold in Spain: Ernest Hemingway poem
Beloved Comrade: song by Fred Katz; Lewis Allen
Mountain Morning: a poem by Patricia Monaghan (fr Songs of a Kerry Madwoman)
Wolves in the Winter: a poem by Patricia Monaghan (fr Songs of a Kerry Madwoman)
Young Lad of the Braided Hair: from an ancient Irish poem
Swallow: from Fear, a poem by Gabriela Mistral
Painted Horse: from an Ancient Chinese poem by Little Su
Angels Were at Our Sides: a poem by Gabriela Mistral
Adios Cuidad: a poem by David Hernandez, (late Puerto Rican poet)
We Become Birds: from Poetry of Children; Robert Coles, editor
Set Me As a Seal: from the Songs of Songs; Music by Peter Swenson