STRAVINSKY’S “SOLDIER’S TALE” – At the SF Conservatory of Music

Two Bay Area conservatories collaborate to bring a modernist masterpiece to life
 

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

This Saturday, November 14th, elite members of the New Music Ensemble of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and American Conservatory Theater Master of Fine Arts Program students will collaborate for the first time to present Stravinsky’s Soldier’s Tale, a cautionary parable about a Russian soldier who makes a deal with the devil, trading his beloved fiddle and, unwittingly, his happiness, in exchange for a book that predicts the economic future. The landmark theatrical work will by performed in English twice that evening, as part of the Conservatory’s BluePrint new music series, once at 7:00 p.m. and again at 9:00 p.m., in the Sol H. Joseph Recital Hall. Nicole Paiement, artistic director of the Conservatory’s New Music Ensemble, and respected stage director Giles Havergal, A.C.T. associate artist, will lead the select cast of actors, dancers, and musicians.

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IGOR STRAVINSKY and GILES HAVERGAL

Rarely seen and heard in its entirety, the 1918 theatrical work is based on a whimsical Russian folk tale adapted to French by the Swiss universalist writer C.F. Ramuz, a dear friend of the composer Igor Stravinsky. In compensation for the lack of competent players caused by World War I, the piece is scored for a septet of mixed winds, strings, and percussion, three actors playing the Soldier, the Devil, and the Narrator, and the nonspoken danced role of the Princess.
The work’s impact has influenced adaptations and reconceptualizations by the likes of Kurt Vonnegut, Winton Marsalis, Peter Martins of the New York City Ballet, and animator R. O. Blechman with Max von Sydow playing the voice of the Devil. Soldier’s Tale is a perfect opportunity for advanced students from both institutions to collaborate with performers from other art forms to create a high-impact performance of a seminal masterpiece.

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Charles Ferdinand Ramuz

“I am thrilled to be able to give this unique opportunity to our Master of Fine Arts Program students to collaborate with their counterparts at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, another leading and respected San Francisco organization that shares our commitment to training the future artist leaders,” says A.C.T. Conservatory Director Melissa Smith. “Stravinsky’s Soldier’s Tale is a truly beautiful piece and with A.C.T favorite artist and teacher Giles Havergal at the helm, we know this will be a performance to remember.”

“Soldier’s Tale will be a stimulating challenge for everyone, because the staging will have the musicians, the actors, and the dancer interacting together onstage, unlike opera or musical theater, where the musicians are isolated in an orchestra pit. We are thrilled to work with Giles Havergal, whose broad experience gives him a profound mastery of both the musical and theatrical aspects of the piece,” says New Music Ensemble Artistic Director Nicole Paiement. “For us, this is a long-dreamt-of opportunity to collaborate with actors and dancers in the creation of theater works other than opera. Finally, with Soldier’s Tale, we have the perfect platform to launch such a collaboration with A.C.T. We hope this will be the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership to create many similar projects.”

For ticket information, call 415-503-6275 or order on-line: SFCM.educ
$20 general admission and $15 for students, seniors, Friends of the Conservatory, and A.C.T. subscribers.

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RECITAL HALL, San Francisco Conservatory of Music

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Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Seán Martinfield, who also serves as Fine Arts Critic, is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”, which is being prepared for publication. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: sean.martinfield@comcast.net.

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