Composer James Stephenson Joins Performing Arts Faculty for Two Concerts

September 23, 2015

James StephensonMembers of the NDSU Division of Performing Arts faculty will perform two major companion works on back-to-back nights. On Friday, October 2, NDSU will host a complete performance of Igor Stravinsky's The Soldier's Tale, one of the masterpieces of 20th century music. On Saturday, October 3, the ensemble will perform James Stephenson's The Devil's Tale, a contemporary sequel to Stravinsky's work.

Stephenson will be in residence for both performances, which will take place in Beckwith Recital Hall at NDSU's Reineke Fine Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. each night, free and open to the public.

Joining the musicians from the Department of Theatre Arts will be Hardy Koenig acting as the narrator. In addition, composer James Stephenson will be in residence to offer additional insights into both his and Stravinsky's music and will introduce the music on both evenings. The Chicago-area composer has quickly been established as a rising star in the field of American composers with performances of his music by major orchestras across the United States.

Premiered in 1918, Igor Stravinsky's L'Histoire du soldat (The Soldier's Tale) uses a unique version of the Faust legend as its basis, telling the story of a soldier who trades with the devil for wealth. Musically complex, the work is surprisingly approachable and easy to understand; it also is decidedly open-ended in the way the piece ends. That element was what caused Stephenson to write what may best be described as a "sequel" to Stravinsky's work. In The Devil's Tale, the ensemble and forces are all identical, but set in modern-day Las Vegas.

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