CONTACT: PETER ALEXANDER
300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Nov. 30, 2001
UI Orchestra, Faculty Will Perform Dec. 9
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Chamber Orchestra
and faculty from the School of Music will perform Camille Saint-Saens' "Carnival
of the Animals" and the rarely-staged original version of Igor Stravinsky's
"Soldier's Tale" in a free concert at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9 in Clapp Recital
Hall on the UI campus.
Forming the first half of the program, "Carnival of the
Animals" will feature the UI Chamber Orchestra under the direction of William
La Rue Jones with pianists Carole Thomas and Rosemary Chancler.
The "Soldier's Tale" will be presented in a collaborative
production by the three units of the UI Division of Performing Arts: the School
of Music, the department of theatre arts and the department of dance. A seven-player
ensemble of faculty from the School of Music will be conducted by Jones, while
personnel from theatres and dance will perform a staged version of the tale,
under the direction of Meredith Alexander from the faculty of the department
of theatre arts.
Featured performers in the production of "The Soldier's
Tale" will be theatre faculty members Eric Forsythe as the narrator, Ralph
Hall as the soldier, and Judy Leigh-Johnson as the devil. From music, Leopold
La Fosse will play the virtuoso solo violin part, with an ensemble of Paul
Ousley, bass; Maurita Murphy Mead, clarinet; Benjamin Coelho, bassoon; David
Greenhoe, trumpet; David Gier, trombone; and Daniel Moore, percussion. The
dancer will be Rachelle Palnick Tsachor.
Saint-Saens had a long and extremely productive life.
Born in Paris in 1835, he lived until 1921. In his 86 years he wrote 13 operas,
three symphonies, numerous orchestral tone poems, five piano concertos, three
violin concertos, two cello concertos, chamber music, songs and choral works.
In addition to all this compositional activity, he taught composition and
continued to perform as both a pianist and organist.
According to some of Saint-Saens' students, the composer
would lighten the classroom atmosphere by improvising parodies of other composers.
"Carnival of the Animals" is the product of his jotting down some of these
improvisations at the prodding of his pupils. Subtitled "Grand Zoological
Fantasy," the score represents an attempt to make fun of stereotyped musical
characters through depictions of different animals.
Appropriately, the work was first performed as a musical
masquerade at a Parisian Mardi Gras concert in 1886, but received few other
performances during the composer's lifetime. Fearing that it might eclipse
his more serious works, Saint-Saens prohibited publication of the work until
after his death. Along with his piano concertos, "The Carnival of the Animals"
has since become a mainstay of the piano repertoire.
When Stravinsky wrote "A Soldier's Tale" in 1918, World
War I was at its height. With most of the major cultural institutions in Europe
closed down, the composer had the idea of writing a piece that could be played
by a small group in modest circumstances. He collaborated with Swiss author
C.F. Ramuz on a tale about a soldier who encounters the devil -- in Stravinsky's
piece as in many legends, playing a fiendish fiddle -- and undergoes a struggle
between good and evil.
The original piece calls for three actors, a female dancer
and a 7-piece instrumental ensemble. In this form the first performance was
given in Lausanne, Switzerland, Sept. 28, 1918, under the direction of the
great Swiss conductor Ernest Ansermet. Performances of this version of the
piece are rare today, and the music is most often heard as a suite -- essentially
the main musical numbers separated from the narrative and the dancing.
"The Soldier's Tale" was one of several pieces composed
during or immediately after World War I that are considered the beginning
of the neo-classical style in music. Some, like "The Soldier's Tale," Stravinsky's
"Octet" and Schoenberg's "Pierrot Lunaire," used smaller instrumental groups
that led to a generally lighter texture than most music of the pre-war late
Romantic style. Others, including Stravinsky's ballet "Pulcinella" -- based
on 18th-century piano pieces -- and Prokofiev's "Classical" Symphony, were
more overtly inspired by the music of the Classic era in music. Taken together,
these pieces represented a move away from the overblown, intensely emotional
style of the late Romantic period and led to a major stream of 20th-century
The Division of Performing Arts is part of the UI College
of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
For information on UI arts events, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa
on the World Wide Web. You may visit the UI School of Music web site at http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/.
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