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Bay Area Chamber Ensemble performs at Ironwood Theatre


March 12, 2018

Richard Jenkins/Daily Globe

BAY AREA Chamber Ensemble members, from left, Joni Chapman, Sheila Mitchell and Joel Glickman perform a piece from Igor Stravinsky's "L'Histoire du Soldat" Saturday at the Historic Ironwood Theatre. Behind the musicians; performers Martin Curry, Ivan Curry, Rebecca Moore and Scott Burchill wait to continue performing Kurt Vonnegut's dialogue that was interspersed between the musical pieces.


Ironwood — The audience at the Historic Ironwood Theatre was treated to a fairly unique show Saturday as the Bay Area Chamber Ensemble performed a piece titled “War and Peace.”

The evening began with the group performing Ralph Vaughn Williams’ “The Piano Quintet in C Minor.”

Following intermission; the trio of Joel Glickman on clarinet, Joni Chapman on piano and Sheila Mitchell on violin performed Igor Stravinsky’s “L’Histoire du Soldat” — or “The Soldier’s Tale” — a theatrical piece that mixed the musical performance with narration involving various characters.

Chapman said the group had first performed the piece years ago, working through the difficult arrangements.

“We almost came to fisticuffs when we first started practicing because it was so bizarre,” she joked. “It has meter changes throughout the whole thing that are just horribly tricky. But we finally got there.”

Given Stravinsky wrote the piece in 1918, Chapman said the group decided to bring it back this year to celebrate its centennial anniversary.

There are two versions of the narrative in the piece, according to Chapman, with the group electing to skip the original version in favor of one written by Kurt Vonnegut.

Using humor, poetry and occasionally profanity; Vonnegut’s story tells the story of an American private in World War II and is based on the case of Eddie Slovik, the first American executed for desertion since the Civil War.

Chapman said she thought the original — described in the program as a “whimsical Russian folktale about a soldier armed with nothing but a violin — didn’t have the right tone.

The piano quintet of Chapman, Mitchell, Michelle Vyskocil on viola, Scott Burchill on bass and Linda Calhan on cello selects different pieces to perform each year, according to Chapman, with Glickman joining the group if a clarinet is called for.

There aren’t a wide range of options for pieces written for a piano quintet, according to Chapman.

“It’s a very limited repertoire,” Chapman said. “(The Williams’ piece) came up and we said, ‘Let’s tackle it.’”


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