Artists mix music, politics in concert for Obama

Tuesday, October 28, 2008 | 6:43 p.m. CDT; updated 9:22 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, October 29, 2008

COLUMBIA — A classical pianist and a contemporary singer-songwriter sound like unlikely partners for a concert.

But at Wednesday night's Show-Me Change: A Concert for Obama, those performers, along with a cellist and a baritone, will be showcased at the Missouri Theatre. Cellist and Missouri native Clarice Jensen conceived the idea with her sister Christina, who is a publicist for classical musicians and organizer for the event. All of the artists share a goal: gaining more support for presidential candidate Barack Obama. 

If you go

WHAT: Show-Me Change: A Concert for Obama

WHEN: 7:30 p.m Wednesday

WHERE: Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts, 203 S. Ninth St.

ADMISSION: $12, general admission. All proceeds benefit the Obama-Biden campaign.

In the waning months of the campaign, Columbia has seen many celebrity supporters, most recently singer-songwriter Carole King. Singer-songwriter Tift Merritt said she thinks music and politics work hand-in-hand.

"Music has the capacity to be idealistic," Merritt said. "It inspires me to do better. It lifts me up and reminds me — with intense purity — of what might be possible."

Merritt, whose album "Tambourine" was nominated for a Grammy for Country Album of the Year in 2004, and classical pianist Simone Dinnerstein, whose last two CDs have topped the Billboard Classical Chart, will be joined by Jensen and baritone Casey Molino Dunn.

Molino Dunn will sing "American Anthem" by Gene Scheer; Dinnerstein will perform selections from Bach's Goldberg Variations; Jensen will play Bach's Suite No. 6 in D major; and Merritt will perform from her latest album, "Another Country." They also hope to share their political beliefs with the public.

"I do think of music as being as intimately human as politics is," Dinnerstein said. "All of the harmonic and historic analysis of music can't even begin to hint at its primal power."

According to Merritt, music is part of  a healthy democracy. 

"Music can be a social critic, an expression of allegiance, a voice for those who aren't heard and even a great kind of diplomacy," she said. "For hundreds and hundreds of years, a folk singer's job has been to take note of what is going on and sing about it to the public. Rock 'n' roll's job is to question authority."

The musicians are excited to work together in this unique collaboration.

"I think most musical styles work well together," Dinnerstein said, "and it's going to be a joy to work with someone as gifted and lovely as Tift."

Merritt shared her admiration for Dinnerstein, too.

"I am really in awe of Simone — her discipline, her passion, the depth of her musicality and talent," she said. "I think she cares about music and feels music in much the same way I do. "

Merritt said music reminds people to "strive for something better, to see something bigger, to dream something beautiful, to do the best we can do in the world and inside ourselves. I feel sure politics needs to be reminded of that every once in a while."

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