News Releases

Music inspired by poetry presents opportunity for collaboration at Oberlin

February 1, 2013

Cathy Partlow Strauss

OBERLIN, OHIO – Long-time recital partners Michael Isaac Strauss, Roger Roe, and R. Kent Cook will be performing and recording at Oberlin Conservatory the first week of February, culminating a month of touring across the Midwest. Oberlin faculty violist Strauss has invited oboist Roger Roe and pianist R. Kent Cook to join him on campus for the final public presentation of their tour program, “Poetic Music for Oboe, Viola, and Piano,” before their recording sessions in Oberlin’s Clonick Hall. Joining the trio will be reader and Oberlin College Professor of English T. S. McMillin. The concert will be held on Thursday, February 7 at 8:00 p.m. in Kulas Recital Hall at 77 W. College Street. Admission is free.

Inspiration for the recital program, which features an unusual combination of oboe, viola, and piano, are pieces whose composers drew source material from poetry. They include Felix Harold White’s 1921 composition The Nymph’s Complaint for the Death of Her Fawn; the five fantasies of Schilflieder, op. 28 by August Klughardt written in 1872; Nocturne Fairyland, Op. 57, No. 1, written in 1917 by Josef Holbrooke, after Edgar Allen Poe’s poem by the same name; and Deux Rhapsodies for Oboe, Viola, and Piano, written in 1901 by Charles Martin Loeffler.

The poetry that inspired each of these late 19th and early 20th century works comes from a diverse group of voices including the American Victorian poet Edgar Allen Poe and the great Austrian lyric poet Nikolaus Lenau, both inspired by Lord Byron; the pivotal 17th century lyric English poet Andrew Marvell; and the French poet Maurice Rollinat, a disciple of Charles Baudelaire.

The Bloomington Herald-Times praised the trio’s January 29 concert at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music saying, "Romanticism abounds, sonorities jump forth, and the recitalists tore into the music with obvious relish. Consequently, ears perked. Mine certainly did."

The February 7 concert will be live streamed at 8:00 p.m. through  While not available online permanently, viewers can see and hear the program via live video.

About the artists
Roger Roe serves as English horn and assistant principal oboe of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra (ISO). In addition to solo appearances with the ISO on oboe, oboe d'amore, and English horn, Roger acts as narrator and creative consultant for family programs. Before coming to Indianapolis, he held oboe and English horn positions with the orchestras of Honolulu, Hawaii, and Charleston, South Carolina. Now on the Indiana University faculty, as well, Roe previously taught at DePauw University for six years. He is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music and Southern Methodist University where he studied with John Mack and Eric Barr. He is an active chamber musician and recitalist and is a past winner of the Fort Worth Young Artist Competition and Downbeat magazine’s Outstanding Young Classical Instrumentalist.

Known for his “rich tone and lyrical acumen” (Chicago Tribune), Michael Isaac Strauss has performed around the world in chamber music, as a featured soloist, and in symphonic settings. For the last 18 years, he served as the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra principal violist where he was featured as a soloist or collaborator in duo roles nearly every season. Strauss is now associate professor of viola and chamber music at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

A former member of the distinguished Fine Arts Quartet, Strauss performed at the prestigious European festivals of Schleswig-Holstein, Bayreuth, and Montpellier. He regularly performs on chamber music series and is artistic director of Music @ Shaarey Tefilla, a concert series in central Indiana. Strauss has also performed and taught at summer festivals including LaJolla, Caramoor, Banff, Sewanee, Eastern Music Festival, and the Beijing International Music Festival & Academy.

Recordings featuring Strauss can be found on the labels of I Virtuosi (debut of Jennifer Higdon’s Viola Sonata), CRI (David Finko’s Viola Concerto and 20th century chamber music works with new music ensemble Orchestra 2001), Lyrinx (Mozart’s complete viola quintets with the Fine Arts Quartet), and Centaur (Stamitz’s works for solo viola with orchestra). He is also the featured recording artist on the Suzuki® Viola School Volume 8, and will record Volume 9 in 2013.

Strauss is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and performs on a viola made by Matteo Albani of Bolzano, Italy, in 1704.

R. Kent Cook
is an associate professor of piano at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois. He keeps an active schedule as soloist and chamber musician and has performed throughout the United States and abroad. Cook hails from Odessa, Texas, and attended Baylor University, finishing a piano performance degree with honors under the guidance of Roger Keyes. He continued his studies at Indiana University receiving both a Masters and Doctorate in piano performance. He has worked with distinguished pianists Leonard Hokanson, Eteri Andjaparidze, Michel Block, James Tocco, and Karen Shaw. In 1992-93, he studied with Herbert Seidel as a Fulbright Scholar at the Hochschule für Musik in Frankfurt, Germany. Prior to joining the faculty at Illinois Wesleyan University, Cook served on the DePauw University faculty. During the summer he teaches at the Illinois Chamber Music Festival and the International Chamber Music Festival based in Kyustendil, Bulgaria. Cook’s recording entitled Nachtstück is available on the Novitas label. 

Reader T. S. McMillin, Oberlin College professor of English, is the author of The Meaning of Rivers: Flow & Reflection in American Literature (American Land & Life Series, University of Iowa Press, 2011) and Our Preposterous Use of Literature: Emerson & the Nature of Reading (University of Illinois Press, 2000). He has written numerous articles on the American Transcendentalists, including "Beauty Meets Beast: Emerson’s English Traits," an essay in the collection Emerson for the Twenty-First Century: Global Perspectives on an American Icon (University of Delaware Press, 2010), and his latest project is centered on the Los Angeles River. He teaches courses in American literature and environmental studies and is the keeper of an unpredictably updated blog, He enjoys giving poetry readings in musical settings and has collaborated with conservatory faculty on a number of projects. McMillin is currently working on a cycle of poems about the Los Angeles River to be accompanied by jazz bass.


Fact Sheet
Thursday, February 7, 8 p.m.

Chamber music concert:
“Poetic Music for Oboe, Viola, and Piano”

Michael Isaac Strauss, viola, Oberlin Conservatory Associate Professor of Viola and Chamber Music
Roger Roe, oboe, English horn and Assistant Principal Oboe of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
R. Kent Cook, piano, Associate Professor of Piano at Illinois Wesleyan University
T. S. McMillin, reader, Oberlin College Professor of English

Oberlin Conservatory of Music
Kulas Recital Hall
77 W. College Street
Oberlin, OH 44074

Admission is free.

Website: (for more info and live streaming link)

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