by Daniel Hathaway
On Sunday, October 3 at Youngstown’s DeYor Performing Arts Center, the Dana School of Music’s Dana Ensemble will return for its second season to perform two brilliant 20th-century pieces that straddle the worlds of chamber and theater music. The 3:00 program will feature Igor Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale (L’Histoire du Soldat) and William Walton’s Façade: An Entertainment.
In a press release, faculty cellist Kivie Cahn-Lipman writes, “This is a pair of incredibly fun pieces, both of them early experiments in classical music with spoken-word theatrical elements. The Walton is a rarity, and the Stravinsky has come to be considered one of the great works of the early 20th century. It’s a program not to be missed.”
The Walton piece is the result of a 1921 collaboration between the 19-year-old composer and the eccentric British poet Edith Sitwell, who had been writing nonsense verse since 1918. She persuaded Walton to compose music to accompany 21 poems that would be shouted through megaphones from behind a curtain while a jazz-inspired instrumental ensemble played. (The photograph lampoons the idea using a traffic cone.)
Although the audience didn’t know what to think of it at its premiere at Aeolian Hall in London in June 1923, a series of famous recordings beginning in 1929 has cemented Façade in the canon of experimental music. Sunday’s performance will feature Dana classroom faculty Jena Root, Steve Reale, and Randall Goldberg as reciters, and the band will include flutist Kathryn Umble, clarinetist Alice Wang, saxophonist James Umble, trumpeter Justin Kohan, percussionist Glenn Schaft, and cellist Kivie Cahn-Lipman.
Stravinsky’s A Soldier’s Tale, which premiered in Lausanne in September 1918, tells the story of a fiddle-playing Russian soldier who makes a pact with the Devil on his way home from combat. Narration on Sunday will be provided by Dana voice professor emeritus Allan Mosher, and the orchestra will feature violinist Wendy Case, joined by clarinetist Alice Wang, bassoonist Grace Houde, trumpeter Justin Kohan, trombonist Andrew Mitchell, percussionist Glen Schaft, and bassist Sue Yelanjian.
The Dana Ensemble comprises a flexible, modular roster of Dana School of Music faculty, often to be joined by regional guest artists, which will come together multiple times each semester for live performances.
“We are very excited for the Dana Ensemble’s second season, which later in the year will include a collaboration with Ballet Western Reserve for their yearly performance of The Nutcracker and a special family concert featuring Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf,” said Randall Goldberg, director of the Dana School of Music. “The October 3 concert presents two lesser-known, but equally entertaining works by two of the 20th century’s great composers.”
Published on ClevelandClassical.com September 29, 2021.
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