Folk & Flora is an original composition by Blair School of Music student Jack Coen and serves as his senior capstone project. Coen composed all of the music and lyrics for the production, which is being sponsored by the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy at Vanderbilt.
“While I have referred to this piece as a great variety of things—musical, song-cycle, documentary with musical commentary—no title, category or genre perfectly describes Folk & Flora,” Coen said. “Whatever it may be, it constitutes a collection of songs about flowers and the roles they play in human lives.”
Because there is no play or “book” as is typical in the Broadway musical theater tradition, Coen has created a documentary from interviews conducted with people to whom the subject matter of each song pertains. These interviews include Jonathan Ertelt, Vanderbilt’s greenhouse manager; Patricia VornDick, a painter and graphic designer; Michael Bryan, co-owner of The White Orchid floral marketplace; Theo Varrett, a floral designer at The White Orchid; and many others.
The production’s cast features members of The Original Cast, The Melodores, and students and faculty of the Blair School of Music.
“When I began creating this piece, I thought I was simply writing songs with a common theme. Thanks to the interdisciplinary nature of this work, bringing together minds and ideas from such disparate fields, it has turned out to be much more than that,” Coen said. “I have learned an exceptional amount about flowers and human beings, and I am profoundly moved by the work that the musicians, cast, crew and interview subjects have done.”