Middle Georgia State Symposium Highlights the Achievements and Suffering of an American Composer

Author: News Bureau
Posted: Monday, October 14, 2019 12:00 AM
Categories: Events- Public | Faculty/Staff | School of Arts and Letters | Pressroom

Macon, GA

Kathleen Lockhart Manning c. 1908

The Middle Georgia State University School of Arts & Letters is hosting a symposium and concert on Thursday, Oct. 24, that focus on the life of Kathleen Lockhart Manning, an American composer and singer.

The public event is designed to celebrate a collection of Manning's diaries, scrapbooks, scores, prose, and poetry - items that one of her distant cousins by marriage, Eva Jean Upton, literally saved from the trash. In the process of going through the materials and doing some internet research, Upton's husband, Jim, stumbled across Dr. Rebecca Lanning, Middle Georgia State (MGA) music professor, who has extensively studied Manning's life and works. The Uptons placed the archival items in Lanning's care. As part of the October 24 event, which will also serve as a memorial to Eva Jean Upton, who died in 2018, the materials will be formally installed as part of the special collections of the MGA Library.

Manning studied composition in Paris in 1908 and then toured France and England, spending the 1911–12 season as a singer with the Hammerstein Opera Company in London. As a composer, Manning specialized in vocal compositions, for which she usually wrote her own texts. Several of her song cycles evoke the cities and countries of their titles and one of these, ‘In the Luxembourg Gardens’ (from the Sketches of Paris), was so popular that she arranged it for women’s choirs.* After her husband died in 1938, Manning suffered from severe mental illness. She died in Los Angeles in 1951.

"Her music is significant," Lanning said. "Her songs represent the development from Stephen Foster to the mature 20th-century American art songs of Samuel Barber. Her diaries describe a raucous life in the 1920s and the changing role of women during this era. They also provide a rare glimpse into the demise of the human condition, from a young musician who had a brush with fame to a recluse defecating between cars at the Los Angeles Farmers Market. The collection (of her diaries and other materials) is relevant to those interested in women’s studies, mental illness, California history, and musicology.

"Since the collection is so rich, and pertinent to many different fields, its installation warranted a symposium featuring prominently on the many strands that can be explored in her diaries. It also marks the first significant special collection gifted to Middle Georgia State University. The concert that evening will be the 21st-century premier of most of her music."

Below is the lineup for the Thursday, Oct. 24, symposium. All events will take place in the Arts Complex on MGA's Macon Campus and are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Lanning at rebecca.lanning@mga.edu.

A Symposium to Celebrate the Eva Jean Upton Special Collection: October 24, 2019

Plenary Session at 1 p.m.

  • The Life of Kathleen Lockhart Manning, Dr. Rebecca Lanning

Breakout Sessions I at 2 p.m.

  • Madness and Iconic Arts Figures, Drs. Thom Harrison & Sabrina Wengier
  • Understanding Manning’s Music, Drs. Alan Clark & Christian Kim

Breakout Sessions II at 2:45 p.m.

  • The Roaring Twenties and the Role of Women, Dr. Shereé Keith
  • Schizophrenia and its Impact, Dr. Amanda Chase
  • To the Source: Archival Research, Drs. Matt Jennings and Monica Miller

Formal Installation of Collection at 3:30 p.m.

  • Special Collections, 2nd floor of the Macon Campus Library.

Concert of Manning’s Music @ 7:30 p.m.

  • MGA Music faculty and students
*Source: www.oxfordmusiconline.com