THE FULL STORY IS BELOW…
The life and works of Jean Stewart McLean will be celebrated on Saturday, November 2 at Guilford Community Church. The date marks the publication of the author’s collected writing in book form, edited by her son, Don McLean, of Guilford. The 7:30 pm program combines a publication party with performances of her work, presented by Friends of Music at Guilford.
Sparks is the title of the new book, the evening’s program, and a musical setting of eleven of the author’s poems, set to music by Don McLean, to be premiered by mezzo-soprano Evelyn McLean.
The author worked in three principal genres — poems, short stories and plays — each of which will be represented on the program.
The evening opens with a very short play, Den 5 Skit, apparently written for a cub scout den in 1949. This comic piece will feature young players, many from Guilford. Detective Sam Club, played by Elijah Taylor, and his Assistant, Al, portrayed by Payton Lawrence, attempt to solve the theft of diamonds from Mrs. Amplebuilt, acted by Kate Maisner. Other cast members are Garret Barry-Stoughton as the Shmoo; Jeremy West as the Cop, Marisa Prohaska as Hot-Rod Harry, and Jenna Barry-Stoughton as the Reporter. Joan Peters of Guilford created the Shmoo.
Don McLean will follow with a short talk about his mother and her work, and read a few representative passages from her fiction.
The featured work of the evening will be the song set Sparks, premiered by Evelyn McLean. The setting brings together songs Don McLean has set to his mother’s poems, the earliest of which was composed in 1962. Two of the songs were written in the 1970’s, and the rest of the pieces during a decade ending in 2004.
The songs have been drawn together in a work for voice and five instruments. Mezzo-soprano Evelyn McLean, has premiered most of Don McLean’s work, as both soloist and choral conductor, including his short operas, Patterns (1980) and Goodbye, Darling (2009) on Friends of Music programs.
The instrumentalists are: Kimi Hasegawa, flute; Karen Bressett, clarinet; Kathy Andrew, violin; Pedro Pereira, cello, and Becky Graber, piano.
The evening closes with a reception, during which copies of the book will be on sale at a special price for those attending this program.
Jean Stewart Sadtler was born in Rahway, New Jersey in 1917. Her father was rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and his children—Jean, and her older sister Margaret—grew up down the street in the rectory. She attended the New Jersey College for Women, long since merged into the state university at Rutgers—majoring in English literature. In her senior year (1938-39) she was president of the Philalethean Society, a literary club which produced The Horn, a magazine in which her work was always prominent.
After college, and by then planning to marry Wallace McLean, the young author became assistant to the editor of Book of the Month Club. She was married in 1942 and settled in Princeton, N.J., where her husband was by now an Assistant Professor in the Electrical Engineering Department.
After giving some attention to poetry in her youth, she turned to two other genres: play-writing and fiction. From that time until she largely gave up writing in the late 1950’s, and combined with her work as a mother, she devoted what time she could to writing. She joined a local writer’s group, which adopted as mentor Dorothy Thomas, who had been a prominent author of the American Prairie during the Depression. Thomas co-authored a story with Jean McLean, from which Don McLean will read a few passages on this program.
Jean Stewart McLean died in November of 1963.
Guilford Community Church is at 38 Church Drive, off Route 5, just south of the Guilford Country Store, about a mile and a half from I-91 Exit 1. Admission is by suggested donation of $10. For info, contact Friends of Music at 254-3600 or <
Guilford Community Church is at 38 Church Drive, off Route 5, just south of the Guilford Country Store, about a mile and a half from I-91 Exit 1. Admission is by suggested donation of $10. For info, contact Friends of Music at 254-3600 or <firstname.lastname@example.org>.