A Soldier’s Tale, A Fiddler’s Tale Preview – Ending the Season on a High Note

Rembrandt Chamber Musicians at the Music Institute of Chicago

Mark your calendars for SUNDAY, JUNE 2, 2019 3:00 PM at the Music Institute, Nichols Concert Hall, Evanston when CONCERT V: A Soldier’s Tale, A Fiddler’s Tale will conclude the REMBRANDT CHAMBER MUSICIANS’ 2018 – 2019 season. Creating a wonderful experience are:

Narrators: Aaron Freeman and Frank Babbitt

Guest Artists: J. Lawrie Bloom, clarinet; Miles Maner, bassoon; Collins Trier, bass; David Inmon, trumpet; Jeremy Moeller, trombone, Eric Millstein, percussion.

Aaron Freeman

This will be a rare and exciting event—the telling of the classic Faustian tale in two different contexts with two quite different protagonists and two very different outcomes by two controversial giants of 20th Century music: Igor Stravinsky and Wynton Marsalis. Premiered eighty years apart—in 1918 and 1998 respectively—written under quite different circumstances and for very different reasons, these two compositions actually have much in common, beginning with the interesting coincidence that they were both written when their respective composers were 36 years of age.

The first performance of A Soldier’s Tale a was staged at the Municipal Theatre in Lausanne and conducted by Ernest Ansermet on September 28, 1918. Because of the outbreak of World War I in 1914 and the subsequent closing of international borders stranded Stravinsky in Switzerland, severing his connection with his friend and collaborator Diaghilev in Paris and with his sources of patrons and royalties in mother Russia.

While there, Stravinsky worked with the Swiss poet C.F. Ramuz (1878-1947) on translations into French of several of his vocal works. A result of shared financial hardship, the two men devised the idea of writing a small theatrical piece that would travel easily and could be “read, played, and danced” on small stages in towns throughout Switzerlandand that would, perhaps, make them some much needed money. The result was L’Histoire du Soldat—The Soldier’s Tale, Stravinsky casts his protagonist as a soldier and amateur violinist who trades his violin to the Devil for a book that reveals the future. The soldier’s fortunes wax and wane as he and the Devil strut and struggle for control of his life until only the Devil remains dancing in the end. It has been suggested that Stravinsky set his soldier as a symbol of so many soldiers who, no doubt, make their own deals with the Devil but ultimately cannot win.

Ramuz wrote the French libretto in verse based on a Russian version of the Faust story, and Stravinsky devised yet another of his revolutionary scores by superimposing jazz sounds and rhythms—though he had not yet actually heard such music—onto his classical foundation by studying jazz and ragtime scoresprovided to him by the young Swiss conductor and jazz enthusiast, Ernest Ansermet.

Marsalis’ A Fiddler’s Tale was a joint commission by The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Jazz At Lincoln Center, specifically to create a contemporary update to Stravinsky’s A Soldier’s Tale.  With the intent to reshape the content but not the form of the tale, he kept the same instrumentation that Stravinsky had established, as well as similar sequencing and many of the same titles for the sections. His friend, the writer Stanley Crouch, created a uniquely American interpretation of the traditional European moral parable. The story is set in the home of the Blues, the Mississippi Delta, casts Faust as a young female fiddler, Beatrice Conners, and the Devil as record producer Bubba Z. Beals (B.Z.B. for short), a somewhat witty take on the Biblical demon,Beelzebub.

Frank Babbitt

The young fiddler, caught between her pursuit of a uniquely personal music and the desire to be successful, is lured by B.Z.B. away from her own soulful approach to song into the recording of formulaic popular tunes which offer commercial success. She struggles with self-doubt and addictions in her effort to sustain her individual creativity while dancing to the Devil’s tune.

This promises to be an amazing experience.

Aaron Freeman, narrator; J. Lawrie Bloom, clarinet; Keith Buncke, bassoon; Mark Ridenour, trumpet; Jeremy Moeller, trombone; Eric Millstein, percussion; John Macfarlane, violin; Collins Trier, bass

Please join the musicians for a complimentary ENCORE! Reception

Rembrandt Chamber Musicians Ensemble

Looking ahead REMBRANDT CHAMBER MUSICIANS ANNOUNCES PROGRAMMING FOR

30th ANNIVERSARY SEASON

Renowned local composers Stacy Garrop and James Stephenson to premiere new compositions in celebration of Rembrandt’s 30th Anniversary 

Rembrandt celebrates Beethoven’s 250th birthday with an all-Beethoven program that includes the Archduke piano trio

Season highlights include: Schubert’s Trout Quintet, Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 4, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 (arranged for chamber ensemble)

Prominent guest artists to appear throughout the season: 
Stephen Alltop, Josefien Stoppelenburg, Jennifer Gunn, and Victor Santiago Asuncion

All Photos: Courtesy of REMBRANDT CHAMBER MUSICIANS

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