Igor Stravinsky’s Iconic Masterpiece: L’Histore Du Soldat

A Painting of Soldiers

Saturday, December 5 at 6 PM Close Encounters With Music will bring all the magic and inspiration of A Soldier’s Tale! to life in its annual holiday concert with renowned English baritone Benjamin Luxon narrating the classic tale. This theatrical production features nine performers, a decorative scrim, choreographed dance interlude, and special lighting effects.

Set to music by Igor Stravinsky, with a libretto based on a Russian folk tale, the much-loved l’Histoire du Soldat is a parable about a soldier who trades his fiddle to the devil for a get-rich-quick recipe. The music—orchestral color at the fore—is scored for a septet of strings, winds and percussion; and the story is told by a narrator. Virtuoso violinist Yehonatan Berick leads the performance and other holiday fare, including light-hearted and virtuosic works by Rossini and Eugene Ysaye. Helping participants discover the charm of Stravinsky’s score, Berick and Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani will be joined by a diverse ensemble, all of whom are faculty members at the University of Michigan who have served as first desks with the Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Metropolitan Opera, Rochester Symphony, and other venerable American orchestras across the U.S.

Young and old alike will respond to the aural excitement of the winds, brass and percussion instrumentation. Performers include Willam Campbell, trumpet; Daniel Gilbert; clarinet; David Lee Jackson, trombone; Jeffrey Lyman, bassoon; Diana Gannett, bass; Joseph Gramley, percussion; and Yehuda Hanani, cello.

Benjamin Luxon CBE was one of Great Britain’s major international singers. His career of some 30 years displays an unusual versatility and he was equally renowned as recitalist, concert, and opera singer. He began as a member of the English Opera Group which was formed by Benjamin Britten and quickly became one of Britten’s key singers culminating with Britten composing the role of Owen Wyngrave (his television opera) specifically for his voice. A regular guest artist at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden and Glyndebourne, he performed at the most important European opera houses, worked with the world’s major conductors and orchestras and made well over 100 recordings. His work was graced with a high musicality, honesty and a very fine acting ability. In 1986 he was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to British Music. In the early 90s his singing career came to an end due to severe hearing loss. His career is now focused on the spoken word, creating and performing programs of poetry and working with various theatrical companies, mainly as a Shakespearean actor.

Violinist Yehonatan Berick, soloist, recitalist, chamber musician (violin and viola), and pedagogue, was a prizewinner at the 1993 Naumburg Competition and a recipient of the 1996-97 Prix Opus. A member of The Los Angeles Piano Quartet, he has performed with the symphony orchestras of Quebec, Winnipeg, Jerusalem, and Haifa, and the Israel, Cincinnati, Montreal, and Manitoba chamber orchestras. Berick’s festival credits include Marlboro, Ravinia, Seattle, Great Lakes, Vancouver, El Paso, Maui, and Bowdoin; and he is a frequent guest performer with Close Encounter With Music. A member of Musicians from Marlboro, the Lortie-Berick-Lysy Piano Trio, and the Huberman String Quartet, he can be heard on recordings on the Summit, Gasparo, and Helicon labels. Currently Professor of Violin at the University of Michigan, his studies were at Tel Aviv University’s Music Academy and at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Close Encounters continues its tradition of commentary before each performance and of inviting the entire audience to an Afterglow reception to meet the artists immediately following the concerts. Now in its 18th season in the Berkshires, the series’ exceptional artistic and audience success has made it one of the leading chamber music associations in the U.S., captivating music lovers from Miami to Kansas City, Omaha, Calgary, Scottsdale and the Berkshires. Since its inception, the Close Encounters Commissioning Program has supported the creation of, produced and premiered fifteen new works by major American and European composers, with several recorded on the Naxos label. In 2010-11, Close Encounters With Music will be in residence at the Frick Museum in New York City.

Tickets, $35 and $25, are available at The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center box office, 413.528.0100, or through Close Encounters With Music at 800-843-0778 or by emailing [email protected]. Please visit our website at www.cewm.org.


Soldier’s Tale: Holiday Concert! Saturday, December 5, 6 PM
A Night of Quartets Saturday, February 20, 6 PM
The Romantic Bach Saturday, March 20, 6 PM
Chopin and His Circle Saturday, April 24, 6 PM
Prague Spring—Czech Idyll Saturday, June 5, 6 PM

These performances at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington, Massachusetts

Chopin Hour Sunday, April 26, 2 PM at the Hudson Opera House, Hudson, New York

“A chamber music series on a par with anything heard at the height of the season. For this, we year-rounders are blessed.” —Rogovoy Report

“There’s a palpable mystique about these Close Encounters concerts.” —Berkshire Eagle

“STUNNER CLOSES SEASON! Though Hanani, Prutsman and Upshaw all performed with that rare combination of mutual understanding and technical finesse which makes for the most satisfying chamber music, Hanani deserves special recognition for his astute program choices.”
—Albany Times Union

“An all-star lineup…CEWM’s usual high caliber.” —Metroland