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Faculty Chamber Players to present Stravinsky work

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – If you’re planning to visit the “Six Places of Christmas” in Newton and North Newton this Saturday, make some time for a special free musical performance at Bethel College.

The Bethel Faculty Chamber Players will present L’Histoire du soldat (The Soldier’s Tale) by Igor Stravinsky Saturday, Dec. 2, at 2 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium in the Fine Arts Center on the Bethel campus.

Timothy Shade, assistant professor of music and director of instrumental music at Bethel, will conduct. The musicians are Nancy Johnson, violin; James Pisano, clarinet; Zach Hague, bassoon; Robert McCurdy, trumpet; Matt Blauer, trombone; Dennis Danders, string bass; and Nathaniel Yoder, percussion.

Pisano is also an assistant professor of music and director of jazz studies at Bethel. Johnson, Hague, McCurdy and Danders are members of Bethel’s instrumental music faculty.

L'histoire du soldat debuted in 1918 as a theatrical work, about an hour long, "to be read, played and danced." The libretto is based on a Russian folk tale and was written in French by the Swiss universalist C.F. Ramuz. It is a parable about a soldier who trades his fiddle to the Devil for a book that predicts the future of the economy.

The music is scored for a septet of violin, double bass, clarinet, bassoon, cornet (often played on trumpet), trombone and percussion. Because of the many time signature changes, it generally requires a conductor.

There are also dramatic roles that help tell the story: the soldier, the Devil and a narrator, who also takes on the parts of minor characters.

Shade is artistic director and musical director for the performance, and John McCabe-Juhnke, Bethel professor of communication arts, serves as stage director and plays the Narrator, with Joshua Powell, fifth-year student, as the Soldier and William Eash, professor of music, as the Devil.

“This is going to be a great concert that features our wonderful faculty,” Shade said. “Admission is free and the audience will be on stage in an intimate setting.

“This is one of the greatest works ever written, with a very interesting instrumentation,” he added.

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2011-12 Forbes.com analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States and is the highest-ranked Kansas college in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2011-12. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.

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