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Performing Arts and Speaker Series

Stravinsky's Psalms and Stories

Image of StravinskyTime: February 25, 2007, 4 pm

Location: Music Building Concert Hall

TICKETS: General Admission $7; Students with I.D. Free

Two of Igor Stravinsky's acclaimed masterpieces form the basis for this program. L'histoire du soldat (A Soldier's Tale), Stravinsky's surreal response to the misery of World War I, is a theater piece that blends narration, dance, music and characters in changing disguises to tell the story of an ordinary solider who loses his soul to the devil, trading his fiddle for a book that predicts the future. This work will be presented fully staged and will feature the music department faculty of CWU and guest artists.

The second, Symphony of Psalms for chorus and orchestra, is one of Stravinsky's best-known and most beautiful works. It was commissioned by the Boston Symphony in celebration of its fiftieth anniversary and first performed in 1930. A relatively short work, written in three movements that use the Latin texts from Psalms 38, 39, and 150, it is, as Stravinsky himself said, a "...singing of the Psalms that I am symphonizing."

About Igor Stravinsky (1881-1971) - Born in 1882 in Oranienbaum, Russia, a city southwest of St. Petersburg, Stravinsky was rooted in the nationalistic school that drew inspiration from Russia's beautifully expressive folk music. His father was an opera singer who performed in Kiev and St. Petersburg, but his greatest musical influence was his teacher, Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov. The colorful, fantastic orchestration that Stravinsky brought to his folk song-inspired melodies was clearly derived from Rimsky-Korsakov. But the primitive, offbeat rhythmic drive he added was entirely his own. The result was a kind of music never before heard in a theater or concert hall.

In 1910 Serge Diaghilev, then director of the world-famous Ballets Russes, invited Stravinsky to compose works for his company's upcoming season at the Paris Opera. The Firebird, the first to appear, was a sensation. Petrushka and The Rite of Spring quickly followed. Soon Stravinsky's audaciously innovative works confirmed his status as the leading composer of the day, a position he hardly relinquished until his death nearly 60 years later.