A musical piece sends a (text) message

Robert Bradshaw’s comic chamber orchestra piece, “QWERTY: An Opera With A [TEXT] Message,’’ will open tomorrow at Salem State University.

NOTES OF CONNECTION: Composer and Salem State music faculty member Robert Bradshaw premieres his comic chamber orchestra piece “QWERTY: An Opera With A [TEXT] Message’’ tomorrow at the university’s recital hall.

The piece humorously and thoughtfully explores the role of technology in people’s daily lives.

In “QWERTY,’’ Joe and Ella have to find the strength to put down their phones and speak directly to each other. Can they do it? Can they ignore the ceaseless pull of their hand-held devices? Or in this world of constant connectivity, will they never connect?


The 30-minute piece is performed by vocalists Gary Wood and Lynn Shane and pianist Beverly Soll, all Salem State music faculty members; and Boston-area freelance musicians Monica Duncan on clarinet, Nathan Cohen on violin, and Kristjan Asgeirsson on marimba.

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The evening includes a lecture by Bradshaw discussing how technology inspired the creation of the composition.

The performance begins at 7:30 p.m. at the recital hall on central campus. Admission is free.

PROLIFIC FOLK ICON: Bill Staines, a member of the 1960s folk scene, performs at One World Coffee House in Essex on Saturday.

Staines mixes traditional songs with his own contemporary folk ballads. His tales of life on the road and observations of everyday people provide a blend of story and song.


He also encourages the audience to sing along. “I have always wanted to bring something of value to people with my songs,’’ Staines said. “I think it is important to try to write beyond myself, to write to the great things that we all experience in our lives.’’

Staines has written more than 300 songs, many of which have been recorded by performers including Peter, Paul, and Mary; Nanci Griffith; Glen Yarborough; and Jerry Jeff Walker. He has made 26 recordings.

His songs “All God’s Critters,’’ “The Roseville Fair,’’ “Child of Mine,’’ and “River’’ have become folk classics.

The performance begins at 8 p.m. in First Universalist Church. Admission is $15. For reservations, call 978-768-3690 or visit

AUTHOR’S CORNER: Thomas Albert “Tal’’ Howard of Georgetown, a history professor at Gordon College in Wenham, has received Christianity Today’s 2012 Book Award for “God and the Atlantic: America, Europe, and the Religious Divide.’’ It was one of 15 books chosen for the award from nearly 400 titles submitted by 52 publishers. Howard’s book explores the United States and Western Europe’s diverging religious paths to modernity. Howard is director of the honors program at Gordon, known as the Jerusalem & Athens Forum, as well as the author of “Religion and the Rise of Historicism’’ and “Protestant Theology and the Making of the Modern German University,’’ which won the Lilly Fellows Program Book Award in 2007.


IN LOCAL GALLERIES: “seven,’’ an exhibit of paintings by Carol Baum of Newbury, is at the Willow Community Gallery at LynnArts in Lynn through Feb. 15. A reception is 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday. Baum’s vibrant oils and watercolors are inspired by her love of the outdoors and the changing seasons. Unlike typical landscapes, her images abstract and fragment nature into a swirl of flowers, leaves, and stars.

Wendy Killeen can be reached at