Singing a vegetable love

A collards oratorio

November 7, 2011

From Arcimboldo to Joost Elffers runs a long line of visual creativity with food. But there’s also a tradition of food-inspired music, from Bach’s Coffee Cantata to the Viennese Vegetable Orchestra (yes, the musicians perform on actual vegetables) to UC Davis’s wacky Food Safety Music.

Now there’s an oratorio devoted to collard greens, performed recently by students at the University of Mississippi. Commissioned by the Southern Foodways Alliance, the piece sings the praises of the South’s bedrock vegetable.

As the composer, music major Price Walden, noted in the program, “My first instinct was to immediately run the other way. However, the more I thought about it, the better the idea seemed to me. The Southern tradition is full of things that are grandiose and larger-than-life; why not apply that notion to such a peculiar and beloved vegetable?”

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