Press Releases Index

February 4, 2003
CONTACT: Jette Englund
(908) 737-NEWS

Kean University Music and Theatre Faculty to Retell A Soldier’s Tale

UNION, N.J. – The Devil made them do it! The Kean University School of Visual and Performing Arts will present A Soldier's Tale on Monday, February 24, at 8 p.m. in Wilkins Theatre, 1000 Morris Avenue, Union, N.J. Admission is free.

In French called L'Histoire du Soldat, the piece was intended to be "read, played and danced." It retells the Faust legend about a soldier who sells his soul to the Devil.

L'Histoire will conclude a concert program called "Devilish Delights," offered by the Kean University Department of Music in its Affiliate Artist Concert Series. The musicians will be Kean affiliate artists and other faculty.

Two transcriptions of Dance Macabre will begin the program. Metropolitan Opera baritone, Richard Hobson, will sing a vocal version by Camille Saint-Säens. Grammy® Award nominee Allison Brewster Franzetti will play a virtuosic piano arrangement by Franz Liszt. Both Hobson and Brewster Franzetti are on the affiliate artist faculty. In addition to singing, Hobson will narrate A Soldier's Tale.

Written in 1918 by Igor Stravinsky on a text by C. F. Ramuz, L'Histoire was intended to support the composer and performers on tour in Switzerland during World War I. It was unpretentiously staged and performed by light forces – two actors, a dancer, a narrator and seven musicians.

The music was startlingly new and since has become recognized as a chamber-music masterpiece. The Kean forces will present the work as originally intended and rarely done, as a mini-theatre piece. It will be conducted by Dr. Tom Connors, director of Bands and Instrumental Music at Kean.

Dan Yates and Cliff Jewell, professional actors and adjunct instructors at Kean, will be directed by Dr. Teresa Choate, a professor in the Department of Theatre. The dancer and choreographer will be Michele Mossay-Cuevas, who teaches dance for the Department of Theatre.

A Soldier's Tale is one of the most challenging of chamber-music pieces because of its rhythmic intricacies. "A performance of L'Histoire will put our Affiliate Artist Program on the map," said Dr. Anthony Scelba, program founder and director. Scelba, a double bassist, will be one of the seven performing musicians.

The others include violinist Sharon Roffman, who was featured as a soloist with Itzhak Perlman in a Live from Lincoln Center broadcast on January 22. Trumpeter Charles Bumcrot and percussionist James Musto, who have long admired the work, were influential in getting it programmed. These affiliate artists will be joined by clarinetist William Shadel, bassoonist Andrea Herr, and trombonist Brian Mahany, all members of Kean's adjunct faculty.

The music is a joyous magpie-like collection of marches, chorales and popular dances. It even contains a miniature concerto for violin; the instrument the soldier gives the Devil in his Faustian bargain. "What a joy it is to perform such a work with such outstanding musicians," said Connors.