Lyrics, Love, and Linder Cookies

On February 16th, Lyric Fest held a Valentine’s themed concert, “Love with a Twist: For Those Lucky at Cards and Unlucky in Love,” at the Academy of Vocal Arts on 19th and Spruce Street. On an average mid-semester Sunday, the performances were a welcome treat to break the monotony of midterms and papers that monopolize Penn students’ lives this time of year. The Academy of Vocal Arts was a charming setting, with a small and cozy interior that allowed the entire experience to feel more akin to an intimate exchange with the performers than a traditional concert. With every piece touching on some aspect of the theme of love, it was only natural that the reception maintained that same romantic atmosphere. Held in a small area just off of the main room, guests were greeted with a custom Love with a Twist cocktail upon entering the reception. Created by mixologist Katie Loeb and designed to embody all the qualities of a great love, the gin, pomegranate and orange cocktail set the stage for the equally as lovely bites arranged beautifully in the room’s center, preparing the guests for what they could expect from caterer Joan Greenfield’s menu. Sticking to light finger food with an amorous twist, guests sampled sophisticated red grapes with roquefort cheese and pistachios, simple snow peas topped with herb cheese, sweet heart-shaped brownies and linder cookies, mini meringues with berries and charming cherry tomato tarts.

The mini meringues topped with raspberries were a particular favorite of the evening. A delightful mix of candied and fruity sugars gave the dessert a tangy sweetness. The red grapes with roquefort cheese and pistachios were also an unexpected albeit delicious snack combination. The pairing of sweet and savory flavors gave this finger food a pleasant piquancy. It was no surprise that the idea that “opposites attract” permeated both the food and the music, in taste, texture, sight, and sound.

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Suzanne DuPlantis, one of the co-founding artistic directors and performers at Lyric Fest, believes it’s themes like this that make receptions at Lyric Fest so engaging. For DuPlantis, the combination of music and food creates a welcoming atmosphere that is sure to satisfy all who experience it. “So here is my secret to happiness,” DuPlantis advises. “Surround yourself with people you love, and feed them. For me, the experience of food is so tied up with hospitality that there is no teasing it apart. And though it may sound strange, it’s the same really, with the way I view music. When I sing, I am filled with those same feelings of hospitality, as if it is essential that I feed the audience with all the nourishing, sustaining, good stuff of music.”

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Lyric Fest’s next concert, “Dear March–Come In–American Women poets in Song,” will be March 28th at 7:30 PM in Goddard Hall of Bryn Mawr College and March 30th at 3:00 PM at the Academy of Vocal Arts. The concert includes newly commissioned pieces by Penn professor James Primosch and others, with guest artists Kiera Duffy, Joseph Gaines, Randall Scarlata and Elisabeth Shammash, along with Laura Ward at the piano. Students with ID can purchase tickets at the door for $5.

-Emily Waxman and Carolyn Grace

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