20 02%20Joseph%20sketches

Stravinsky’s Soldier’s Tale

McOpera Ensemble led by violinist Katie Hull

Presented by Flora Munro

Animated film with artwork by Derek Gray
and live-edited by Roddy Simpson


01 February 2020

Carl Reinecke - Trio in Bb, Op 274
for Clarinet, Horn and Piano (1st movt)
Brahms - Trio in E flat major
for Violin, Horn and Piano, Op 40
Interval
Stravinsky - Suite from L’Histoire du Soldat
and Three Pieces for Solo Clarinet (1919)

Stravinsky's trio version of The Soldier’s Tale is an instrumental suite for violin, clarinet and piano using material taken from his larger septet version of the same title, written the year before in 1918.In this updated version, the suite is presented with live-edited animated film commissioned from artist Derek Gray and Edinburgh-based film maker Roddy Simpson.

It tells the story of a soldier who strikes a bargain for his soul, trading his violin for unlimited economic gain, all he wishes for, until he finally realises that it is not material worth which is important in life but love, family and music. The importance of choosing the good and abiding in it, of not overstepping one’s boundaries, of gratitude, is his timeless moral message.

ST Trio.JPG

Igor Stravinsky : The Soldier’s Tale

Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) was certainly the greatest composer of the twentieth century, yet most listeners never go beyond his “Russian” period as represented by the meteoric early ballets The Firebird, Petrushka and The Rite of Spring. To get the full measure of Stravinsky, we must follow him after he left his native country on the eve of the Communist Revolution. Settled in Europe, Stravinsky turned away from Russian folklore as a source of inspiration in favour of the “classics” of Western culture, as is clear from such composition titles as Oedipus Rex, Apollo, Perséphone, Orpheus, and Agon. His reconversion to the Russian Orthodox faith in the late 1920s brought Christianity into the mix of influences and sources of inspiration that produced Symphony of Psalms and a Mass.

Stravinsky never forsook his Russian roots and an earthy peasant sense of good and evil. In an era when the devil (along with other religious concepts) was being widely reduced to a symbolic abstraction, he insisted that he believed in “the Person of the Lord and the Person of the Devil” and put the latter on stage in two of his most important musical-dramatic works, The Soldier’s Tale and The Rake’s Progress. These pieces remind a secularized world that the battle between man and the Evil One remains the human drama.

L’Histoire du soldat (The Soldier’s Tale): A “theatrical work to be read, played, and danced,” was created in 1918. The libretto was adapted by C.F. Ramuz from a Russian folk tale and tells the story of the soldier Joseph, who, while on leave, trades his violin to the devil in exchange for a book which predicts the future economy. Stravinsky’s music is scored for a bare-bones ensemble of seven instruments that evokes the raucous sounds of a village band. With rhyming narration, pantomime, and ballet, the work often resembles improvised street theatre - an impression sustained by Stravinsky’s use of popular genres such as march, tango, waltz, and ragtime.

The moral content of Soldier centres on the bargain Joseph makes with the devil. Joseph’s fiddle symbolizes his soul. The “way of the fiddle”- the life of poetry, art and faith, is contrasted with the “way of the book”- the life of rationalism and commerce. Joseph obtains great wealth but remains enslaved to the devil’s whims. Upon losing all his money to the devil in a card game, he finally becomes free. Joseph marries a princess and seems destined for happiness at last but he makes a fatal error by returning to the scene of his original encounter with the devil. The latter is there waiting and reclaims Joseph’s soul for good. The narrator draws the moral:

“You must not seek to add to what you have, what you once had… No-one can have it all; that is forbidden. You must learn to choose between. One happy thing is every happy thing. Two is as they’d never been."

The importance of choosing the good and abiding in it, of not overstepping one’s boundaries, of gratitude, is a timeless message. Alas, it is too late for the soldier. Stravinsky ends the cautionary tale with music (“Devil’s Dance”) that flails about in hopeless desperation until the final drum beat puts a grim cap on the proceedings.

The Soldier’s Tale is a sardonic delight and one of Stravinsky’s most popular pieces, but it is most often heard as a concert suite rather than as originally conceived: a hybrid of action, spoken word and music. Only by experiencing the work whole can we get its full moral punch.

Katie%20Hull

Katie Hull grew up in Dorset, before studying violin in London at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with David Takeno. She was appointed Principal 1st Violin with the Northern Sinfonia at the age of 21, and eight years later moved to Glasgow to work with the Scottish Ensemble and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

She was appointed Assistant Leader of the Orchestra of Scottish Opera in 1996, and played a formative role in the emergence of Music Co-OPERAtive Scotland (McOpera).

She is a sought after orchestral and chamber musician, working regularly with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Northern Sinfonia and Scottish Chamber Orchestra amongst many others, and has tutored violin at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland for nearly 20 years. She was awarded an MBA from the University of Glasgow in 2018.

Katie%20Hull

Katie Hull grew up in Dorset, before studying violin in London at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with David Takeno. She was appointed Principal 1st Violin with the Northern Sinfonia at the age of 21, and eight years later moved to Glasgow to work with the Scottish Ensemble and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

She was appointed Assistant Leader of the Orchestra of Scottish Opera in 1996, and played a formative role in the emergence of Music Co-OPERAtive Scotland (McOpera).

She is a sought after orchestral and chamber musician, working regularly with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Northern Sinfonia and Scottish Chamber Orchestra amongst many others, and has tutored violin at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland for nearly 20 years. She was awarded an MBA from the University of Glasgow in 2018.

Josef%20Pacewicz

Josef Pacewicz studied clarinet at the Royal Academy of Music in London, before joining the Royal Scottish National Orchestra as Associate Principal Clarinet where he remained for 38 years. He left the orchestra in 2017 to pursue work as a freelance musician.

He works regularly with the RSNO, BBC Scottish Symphony and Scottish Chamber Orchestras as well as undertaking many chamber music and music education projects. During this time he has also appeared with all the major British orchestras, including the London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia, BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Halle Orchestra amongst others.

Since 1985, he has taught both clarinet and saxophone at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, is a regular tutor on National Youth Orchestra of Scotland courses and the current external saxophone examiner at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

Katie%20Hull

Josef Pacewicz studied clarinet at the Royal Academy of Music in London, before joining the Royal Scottish National Orchestra as Associate Principal Clarinet where he remained for 38 years. He left the orchestra in 2017 to pursue work as a freelance musician.

He works regularly with the RSNO, BBC Scottish Symphony and Scottish Chamber Orchestras as well as undertaking many chamber music and music education projects. During this time he has also appeared with all the major British orchestras, including the London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia, BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Halle Orchestra amongst others.

Since 1985, he has taught both clarinet and saxophone at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, is a regular tutor on National Youth Orchestra of Scotland courses and the current external saxophone examiner at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

Hebba%20Benyaghla

Hebba Benyaghla performs regularly as a soloist, chamber musician and accompanist including the Aurora Chamber Music Festival in Sweden, Music at Paxton Festival, Haddo Arts Festival, Lammermuir Festival, Leeds International Concert Season, Forum Musikae Academia International de Música Madrid, Worcester Three Choirs Festival, BBC Proms, RCS International Piano Festival and has appeared on BBC Radio 3. Hebba is an Associate Accompanist for NYCOS National Girls’ Choir, and accompanist and deputy lecturer in piano at the RCS Junior Conservatoire.

Hebba was the first recipient of the RCS Principal’s Scholarship and graduated with Honours of the First Class. Now a Masters’ student at the Conservatoire, Hebba performs regularly as a soloist, chamber musician and accompanist, studying with Prof. Aaron Shorr and Graeme McNaught

Katie%20Hull

Hebba Benyaghla performs regularly as a soloist, chamber musician and accompanist including the Aurora Chamber Music Festival in Sweden, Music at Paxton Festival, Haddo Arts Festival, Lammermuir Festival, Leeds International Concert Season, Forum Musikae Academia International de Música Madrid, Worcester Three Choirs Festival, BBC Proms, RCS International Piano Festival and has appeared on BBC Radio 3. Hebba is an Associate Accompanist for NYCOS National Girls’ Choir, and accompanist and deputy lecturer in piano at the RCS Junior Conservatoire.

Hebba was the first recipient of the RCS Principal’s Scholarship and graduated with Honours of the First Class. Now a Masters’ student at the Conservatoire, Hebba performs regularly as a soloist, chamber musician and accompanist, studying with Prof. Aaron Shorr and Graeme McNaught

Sue%20Baxendale

Sue Baxendale studied English and Music (University of Birmingham) and horn at the Royal Northern College of Music before taking the position as Section Principal Horn at Scottish Opera in 1996.She currently works throughout the UK as guest principal with ensembles including the BBCSSO and BBC Philharmonic, RSNO, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Scottish Ballet, Opera North, Scottish Ensemble and Manchester Camerata. She is a founder member of the Antonine Trio and Scottish Opera Brass.

A varied portfolio musician, Sue is the producer for the Lammermuir Festival Community Operas, with acclaimed productions of Britten’s Noye’s Fludde (2016) and Matthew Rooke’s An Cadal Trom (2018), both conducted by Sian Edwards, and project manages community outreach work for McOpera Outreach, including a series of wide-ranging outreach projects for Milngavie Music Club and Nairn Music, and Songs for Haddo for the Haddo Arts Festival 2017-2019.

Sue is the horn tutor at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (Junior Conservatoire) and the Music School of Douglas Academy and tutors Kodaly musicianship for the East Dunbartonshire Children’s Chorus and Youth Choir.

Katie%20Hull

Sue Baxendale studied English and Music (University of Birmingham) and horn at the Royal Northern College of Music before taking the position as Section Principal Horn at Scottish Opera in 1996.She currently works throughout the UK as guest principal with ensembles including the BBCSSO and BBC Philharmonic, RSNO, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Scottish Ballet, Opera North, Scottish Ensemble and Manchester Camerata. She is a founder member of the Antonine Trio and Scottish Opera Brass.

A varied portfolio musician, Sue is the producer for the Lammermuir Festival Community Operas, with acclaimed productions of Britten’s Noye’s Fludde (2016) and Matthew Rooke’s An Cadal Trom (2018), both conducted by Sian Edwards, and project manages community outreach work for McOpera Outreach, including a series of wide-ranging outreach projects for Milngavie Music Club and Nairn Music, and Songs for Haddo for the Haddo Arts Festival 2017-2019.

Sue is the horn tutor at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (Junior Conservatoire) and the Music School of Douglas Academy and tutors Kodaly musicianship for the East Dunbartonshire Children’s Chorus and Youth Choir.

Flora%20Munro

Flora Munro is a performer and voiceover artist, with a background in animation and media. Flora can be heard regularly as a Continuity Announcer on STV and has worked extensively across the UK as a voiceover artist for television, radio and advertising over the past decade. Clients include: BBC, STV, Heart Radio, Clyde 1, RBS, Scottish Government, National Trust for Scotland, Enterprise Scotland & The Linnean Society of London.

She has been Narrator for Scottish Opera's Pop-Up Opera, narrated for the original version of Stravinsky's The Soldier's Tale with McOpera with conductor Sian Edwards (2017), and introduced the Athletes' Parade at the Opening Ceremony of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Flora is also much sought after as a session singer and performer, and she gigs regularly across Scotland. Inspired by the sound of the 1920s from an early age, her beguiling vocals are enriched with influences from a love of funk, soul, and rhythm & blues.

www.floramunro.com

Katie%20Hull

Flora Munro is a performer and voiceover artist, with a background in animation and media. Flora can be heard regularly as a Continuity Announcer on STV and has worked extensively across the UK as a voiceover artist for television, radio and advertising over the past decade. Clients include: BBC, STV, Heart Radio, Clyde 1, RBS, Scottish Government, National Trust for Scotland, Enterprise Scotland & The Linnean Society of London.

She has been Narrator for Scottish Opera's Pop-Up Opera, narrated for the original version of Stravinsky's The Soldier's Tale with McOpera with conductor Sian Edwards (2017), and introduced the Athletes' Parade at the Opening Ceremony of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Flora is also much sought after as a session singer and performer, and she gigs regularly across Scotland. Inspired by the sound of the 1920s from an early age, her beguiling vocals are enriched with influences from a love of funk, soul, and rhythm & blues.

www.floramunro.com

Roddy%20Simpson

Roddy Simpson Filmmaker & Editor: originally a professional actor, Roddy’s work as a film maker and his parallel career as a photographer, lighting designer, and editor led to an increasing amount of work in both opera and dance film (including Simoon for Music Co-OPERAtive Scotland and Britten’s Noye’s Fludde and Rooke’s An Cadal Trom for the Lammermuir Festival).

Roddy worked with animator Derek Gray to create the live-edited film of The Soldier’s Tale for Milngavie Music Club in 2017. 

www.roddysimpson.com 

Katie%20Hull

Roddy Simpson Filmmaker & Editor: originally a professional actor, Roddy’s work as a film maker and his parallel career as a photographer, lighting designer, and editor led to an increasing amount of work in both opera and dance film (including Simoon for Music Co-OPERAtive Scotland and Britten’s Noye’s Fludde and Rooke’s An Cadal Trom for the Lammermuir Festival).

Roddy worked with animator Derek Gray to create the live-edited film of The Soldier’s Tale for Milngavie Music Club in 2017. 

www.roddysimpson.com 

Derek%20Gray

Derek Gray is a storyboard artist, illustrator and caricaturist living in East Dunbartonshire. A founder member of the Scottish Cartoon Art Studio, his work formed a major part of the “Fizzers” exhibition.

Derek’s main work is as a storyboar d artist for films (including The Outlaw King and Citadel, amongst many others), TV dramas (incl Rebus, River City) and computer games.

www.derekgrayart.co.uk

Katie%20Hull

Derek Gray is a storyboard artist, illustrator and caricaturist living in East Dunbartonshire. A founder member of the Scottish Cartoon Art Studio, his work formed a major part of the “Fizzers” exhibition.

Derek’s main work is as a storyboar d artist for films (including The Outlaw King and Citadel, amongst many others), TV dramas (incl Rebus, River City) and computer games.

www.derekgrayart.co.uk

Music Co-OPERAtive Scotland (McOpera) was formed in the spring of 2012 by musicians from The Orchestra of Scottish Opera to provide and generate a range of artistically exciting and diverse work in Scotland. Since that time, it has developed a wide portfolio of activity ranging from operatic productions, bespoke recording projects, orchestral performances and community outreach projects across a wide social and cultural demographic.

Recent McOpera activity (Project Manager - Sue Baxendale) includes critically acclaimed 5-star productions of large-scale community operas for the Lammermuir Festival, with Britten’s Noye’s Fludde in 2016 and the premiere performance of Matthew Rooke’s community opera, An Cadal Trom in September 2018.

Other activity includes the Scottish premiere of Fleishmann’s Rothschild’s Violin and the world premiere of Scottish composer Erik Chisholm’s opera Simoon (for Cottier Chamber Project 2014 and 2015, the latter released as a live performance on Delphian label in November 2016); an animated film production of Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale with commissioned piece for children’s chorus and ensemble by Peter Kemp (Milngavie Tales), a Young Musicians’ Portfolio Musicians Project and A Song for Flight by Moira Morrison for Milngavie Music Club; and A Song for Haddo (for primary school voices and high school strings) for the Haddo Arts Festival in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

www.mcopera.com