Moby-Dick Marathon celebrates education, Jan. 3-5

Herman Melville struggles with the opening line of Moby-Dick, as imagined by artist, Dave Blanchette

Herman Melville struggles with the opening line of Moby-Dick, as imagined by artist, Dave Blanchette

The 18th annual Moby-Dick Marathon January 3-5 celebrates education during a weekend of activities surrounding the non-stop reading of Herman Melville’s literary masterpiece at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Pia Durkin, Superintendent of New Bedford Public Schools will lead the marathon on Saturday at noon. “We are pleased to welcome Superintendent Durkin as she reads from America’s most famous novel, written by one of its greatest authors. The museum stresses the importance of writing in our high school apprentice program; it is a life skill which is critical for success in every field of endeavor,” said James Russell, museum President and CEO.

Sponsored in part by Rockland Trust and Empire Loan Charitable Foundation, admission is free to marathon programs. Freewill donations supporting museum programs are gratefully accepted.

Weekend activities begin on Friday, January 3 at 4:00 p.m. with the opening of “Martin and Moby,” an exhibition of works by Mattapoisett artist Peter Michael Martin, whose large scale paper cuts are inspired by the book.

On Friday at 5:30 p.m. a ticketed buffet dinner and cash bar will be held in the Jacobs Family Gallery. For tickets to the dinner ($29), call (508) 997-0046 ext. 100.

Dinner will be followed by a free public program titled “Mast-headers and opera glasses: A conversation with librettist Gene Scheer about creating Moby-Dick the opera with Jake Heggie” at 7:15 p.m. in the Cook Memorial Theater, with Dr. Robert Wallace. Scheer will discuss the opera, hailed “an undeniable success” by the New York Times. A book signing will follow the talk.

Scheer’s work is noted for its scope and versatility. With Heggie he has collaborated on a number of different projects, including “Three Decembers” (Houston Grand Opera), which starred Frederica von Stade; the lyric drama “To Hell and Back” (Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra), which featured Patti LuPone, and the lyrics for Wynton Marsalis’s “It Never Goes Away.” A composer in his own right, Scheer’s song “American Anthem” (sung by Norah Jones) was featured in Ken Burn’s Emmy Award-winning PBS documentary, “The War.”

A retired educator of 35 years, Peter Michael Martin taught high school biology and special education, integrating art as an alternate form of student assessment. Many of his paper cut compositions reflect inspirations found in nature specific to the New England coast. He currently works out of his New Bedford studio in the historic district and is also one of the founding members of Gallery 65 on William Street.

On Saturday at 10:00 a.m. Stump the Scholars, a quiz game with prizes, invites the audience to pose questions to Melville scholars in the Cook Memorial Theater. At 11:30 a.m. the Melville Society will read selected “Extracts” from Moby-Dick in the Bourne building. At noon, the marathon begins with Superintendent Pia Durkin reading the part of Ishmael. At 1:30 p.m. marathon participants walk next door to the Seamen’s Bethel, made famous as the “Whaleman’s Chapel” for Chapters 7 through 9, featuring Reverend Dr. Edward R. Dufresne as Father Mapple, with Gerald P. Dyck leading the hymn “The Ribs and Terrors in the Whale.”

On Saturday at 6:00 p.m. London artist Vanessa Hodgkinson will discuss her recent work in a conversation with Christina Connett, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions in the Wattles Family Gallery. Titled “Self Portrait of a Sperm Whale,” the talk focuses on her work inspired by Moby-Dick, and coincides with an exhibition of Hodgkinson’s new watercolors at Crowell’s Fine Art and Framing in New Bedford. Hodgkinson lives and works in London, and studied History of Art at Cambridge University, recently completing her MA in Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art & Design, London.

On Saturday at 7:00 p.m. Culture*Park, a regional performing arts collaborative, will stage Chapter 40 – “Midnight, Forecastle” in the Cook Memorial Theater.

Chat sessions with Melville scholars in the Wattles Family Gallery are Saturday 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. and Sunday 9:30 – 11:00 a.m. Chat with Melville artist Peter Michael Martin, Saturday 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. and Sunday 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. in the Centre Street Gallery.

Live streaming of the entire reading will be available on the museum’s website To view on Smartphones and tablets, download the free app. Use #MDM18 in all social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, and Pinterest. Refreshments will be available for sale throughout the marathon.

A midwinter tradition, attracting hundreds of Moby-Dick fans from around the world, the marathon marks the anniversary of Herman Melville’s January 1841 departure from the port of New Bedford and Fairhaven aboard the whale ship, Acushnet.

Moby-Dick Marathon Weekend Schedule of Events

Friday, January 3

4:00 p.m. – Exhibit opening “Martin and Moby”, Centre Street Gallery

5:30 p.m. – Ticketed buffet dinner, Jacobs Family Gallery (cash bar: 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.)

7:15 p.m. – Free public program, “Mast-headers and opera glasses: A conversation with librettist Gene Scheer about creating Moby-Dick the opera with Jake Heggie”, Cook Memorial Theater

Saturday, January 4

10:00 a.m. – Stump the Scholars quiz game with prizes, Cook Memorial Theater

11:30 a.m. – Moby-Dick “Extracts,” read by the Melville Society, Bourne Building

11:50 a.m. – Welcome, James Russell, President and CEO

12:00 p.m. – Moby-Dick Marathon reading begins, Bourne Building

1:30 p.m. – Chapters 7-9 in the Seamen’s Bethel

2:30 p.m. – Marathon continues in the Jacobs Family Gallery

2:00-3:00 p.m. – Chat with Melville scholars, Wattles Family Gallery

4:00-5:30 p.m. – Chat with Melville artist Peter Michael Martin, Centre Street Gallery

6:00-7:00 p.m. – A Conversation with Melville artist Vanessa Hodgkinson, Wattles Family Gallery

7:00 p.m. – Chapters 35-40 “Midnight, Forecastle” performed by Culture*Park, Cook Memorial Theater

8:00 p.m. – Marathon continues, Jacobs Family Gallery

Sunday, January 5

9:30-11:00 a.m. – Chat with Melville scholars, Wattles Family Gallery

10:00-11:30 a.m. – Chat with Melville artist Peter Michael Martin, Centre Street Gallery

1:00 p.m. – Marathon finale

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s