By Melissa Dundis
UNO Faculty members bring together music theater and dance for the School of Music’s’ first production this semester, Igor Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale. Performing in the production are faculty members of the school of music, theater department and UNO’s modern dance group, The Moving Company. Telling us about the piece composed for small theater is Associate Professor and Director of Bands, Dr. Karen Fannin.
FANNIN: “We came up with this idea to put this piece together, about a year and a half ago. It’s always difficult to get a group of faculty together, especially since several of them are are members of the Omaha Symphony, so we thought we would put this together at the very beginning of the year and have this be one of the first performances in the School of Music.”
Like all good music, there’s an interesting story that ends with a twist.
FANNIN: “Just a very short synopsis of the story, there is a soldier who has a fiddle and he trades the fiddle for a magic book which he gets from the devil. This magic book brings him misfortune, so these bad things happen. He finally figures out a way to get the devil drunk and he finally gets the fiddle back. With the fiddle he is able to do good; he brings a princess back to life and he marries her. So, that is where the dancers a part of bringing the princess back to life. So things are good for a while, but then the princess says “Why don’t we go back home?” And so he agrees, and when he steps over the line, the devil snatches him again, and that is how the story ends, he’s back in the grass with the devil.”
Not only might the story take you by surprise, but the music is a little unusual too.
FANNIN: “Igor Stravinsky wrote this piece during WWI, and it was meant to be a piece that could be performed in a really small theaters and be done very cheaply. If you know much about Stravinsky, he started off his career writing huge Russian works and of course money was tight in WWI, and this is a piece that could be performed easily and what is really interesting about it is he says that this is a jazz influenced piece, but it doesn’t really sound like jazz. He got his picture of jazz through looking at sheet music in Europe, of how it was notated. So he didn’t hear jazz, or so he says. He says a lot of things and we learn that things are a different way, so he’s kind of an interesting composer. But, all of these forms that he uses, the march, the pastorale, the dances; there is something odd about them and that is the hallmark of his second period of composition which is called Neoclassicism.”
You can find Dr. Fannin conducting UNO staff, in a performance of Stravinsky’s “The Soldier’s Tale” is this Wednesday evening at 7;30 in the Strauss Perfoming Arts Recital Hall on the UNO Campus. Tickets are available at the door, and free for students. For more information, contact Dr. Karen Fannin at [email protected] or cal 402.554.3446