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   from the issue of March 11, 2004

Benefit planned for Kees music manuscripts

Music, poetry, art and the artistic genius of Weldon Kees will be the focus of “Too Cool to Care: Weldon Kees with a San Francisco Beat,” a March 26 benefit event featuring an eclectic mix of performances.

The event begins 7:30 p.m. in Kimball Recital Hall. Its purpose is to raise funds to purchase original sheet music manuscripts of Weldon Kees and his collaborator, Bob Helm, and will feature faculty and students from the UNL School of Music performing songs from that collection. Tickets at the door will cost $15 for the general public, $10 for seniors and $5 for students.

The event will also feature Professor of English Emeritus Robert Knoll, who will talk about his study of Kees, and a talk on Kees’ art by Daniel Siedell, curator of the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery.

Katherine Walter, chair of Digital Initiatives and Special Collections at the University Libraries, recently discovered 233 pages of Kees’ unpublished sheet music and notes regarding lyrics and poetry for sale in Berkeley, Calif.

“The UNL Libraries are working with an antiquarian book dealer to purchase the collection,” Walter said.

Kees (1914-55), a Nebraska graduate and native of Beatrice, published poetry and prose, directed art films, and exhibited his art works in New York. Kees’ poetry has drawn the attention of poets such as Donald Justice and Dana Gioia, and the University of Iowa Art Museum held a show of his art works in the 1990s.

While living in San Francisco in the 1950s, Weldon Kees was on the fringes of the “Beat Generation.” Kees and Helm composed and wrote lyrics to many ragtime jazz pieces.

This sheet music would enhance the collections of Kees’ materials at the Sheldon and the Lincoln City Libraries, said Joan Giesecke, dean of libraries.

Sponsors include the University Libraries, the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts, School of Music, and the Friends of the Libraries.

Also about Kees

Artwork by Nebraska native Weldon Kees is now on display at the Sheldon Art Gallery in an exhibition, “Weldon Kees from the Permanent Collection,” that will run through April 25.

In addition, Sheldon Curator Daniel Siedell has recently edited a book, “Weldon Kees and the Arts at Midcentury,” published by the University of Nebraska Press.



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