In conjunction with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s upcoming performance of Silent Spring, a symphonic tone poem created to honor the 50th anniversary of the publication of the seminal Rachel Carson book, the Chatham University Archives is presenting an exhibit titled Nature & Nurture: The Rachel Carson Legacy in Pittsburgh. On view in Heinz Hall from April 6 through April 22, the exhibition presents highlights from the collections of the University Archives that explore the roots of Rachel Carson’s interest in science and writing and the legacy of celebrating her achievements though music.
Widely recognized for The Sea Around Us, Silent Spring, and countless articles that brought attention to the detrimental effects of widespread pesticide use, Rachel Carson’s connection to music isn’t frequently discussed. However, music played a major role in Rachel’s upbringing, as her mother taught piano lessons to local children in the family home and many days were spent setting Mother Goose rhymes to music.
Rachel remained a classical music fan throughout her lifetime, even writing liner notes for the National Symphony Orchestra’s recording of Claude Debussy’s Le Mer and speaking at an orchestra benefit luncheon. As a student at Chatham (then Pennsylvania Female College), Rachel evoked the sound of piano music in her literary club award winning essay, Broken Lamps. This essay is available online through the University Archives at this link.
The exhibition, Nature & Nurture: The Rachel Carson Legacy in Pittsburgh, spans Rachel Carson’s experience as a student and a few of the local, musical events that have honored her work as an environmental pioneer. The display includes photographs, programs, and documents from the 1995 Opus: Earth symphony concert to benefit the Rachel Carson Institute and the World Wildlife Fund.
Of particular note is a score to Silent Spring inscribed “in honor of Rachel Carson to her Alma Mater Chatham University” by the composer, Steven Stucky. The score was presented during an on-campus discussion of his piece and the legacy of Rachel Carson in 2011.
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is generously offering discount codes for students, staff, faculty, and alums. Contact Student Affairs for more information. You won’t want to miss the special pre-concert lecture by Dr. Patricia DeMarco, former head of the Rachel Carson Institute and our region’s foremost Rachel Carson scholar. Dr. DeMarco’s lecture will occur on Friday, April 20, 2018.
Can make the event? Check out the finding aid for the Collection on Rachel Carson or contact the Chatham University Archives & Special Collections to learn more about Rachel Carson `29 and her local legacy.