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Beyond the Score: Scheherazade
- The Story of 1001 Nights Comes Alive!
- October 10-11, 2014 8:00 PM
- where: Dell Hall directions
- conductor: Peter Bay
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Back by popular demand is Chicago Symphony’s Beyond the Score® this time featuring Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. Delve deeper into one of the most beloved pieces in the repertoire with this fascinating multimedia concert. Part of the Chicago Symphony’s acclaimed Beyond the Score® series, this in-depth exploration of Scheherazade captures the imagination of longstanding concert-goers and those new to symphony concerts. Video, excerpts, and narration combine to illuminate Rimsky-Korsakov’s exotic musical portrait of master-storyteller Scheherazade. With the aid of local actors, Rujuta Narweker and Charles Ney,gain insight into historical context, Rimsky-Korsakov’s inspiration, and more in the program’s first half; then, hear Scheherazade in a whole new light as the ASO gives a full performance on the program’s second half.
Born March 18, 1844 in Tikhvin, Russia; died June 21, 1908 in Lyubensk, age 64
Scheherazade, Op. 35 (Completed in 1888, age 44)
Although he has become one of the most beloved Russian composers of all time, Rimsky-Korsakov’s initial career was that of a naval officer, a goal he maintained from childhood despite his precocious musical talents. A turning point in his life occurred in 1861 when the young composer/seaman fell under the musical spell of Mily Balakirev, founder of the school of Russian Nationalism known as Moguchaya kuchka, correctly translated as “The Mighty
Handful,” not “The Mighty Five” as most Americans have been misinformed in decades of music appreciation courses! Suddenly, Rimsky-Korsakov wanted to abandon his naval career, but at the insistence of his elder brother, a high-ranking officer, he maintained his commission until he finally left the navy in 1873. Nonetheless, Balakirev’s influence remained
with Rimsky-Korsakov during this time, and he continued to study music during seafaring missions.
Rimsky-Korsakov’s love of the sea penetrated many of his compositions, perhaps nowhere stronger than in Scheherazade. He composed the work in 1888 after a creative block brought on by family sickness and death. In fact, his three most popular works, Scheherazade, Capriccio
Espagnole, and the Russian Easter Overture were composed in less than a year’s time. The well-known inspiration for Scheherazade came from Tales of the Arabian Nights. In the preface to the score, the composers sets the stage for these fantasies:
The Sultan Shahriar, persuaded of the…faithlessness of women, has
sworn to put to death each one of his wives after the first night. But
the Sultana Scheherazade saved her life…by tales she told him
during one thousand and one nights. Pricked by curiosity, the Sultan
put off his wife’s execution, and at last gave up entirely his bloody plan.
Initially, Rimsky-Korsakov gave non-descriptive titles to the four movements, but was later persuaded to write fanciful descriptions to help the audience (see the program page for these descriptions). He later regretted the move, saying,” All I desired was that the listener…should carry away the impression that it is…an Oriental narrative of some numerous…fairy-tale wonders and not merely four pieces…composed on the basis of themes common to all the four movements.”
The solo violin represents the seductive voice of Scheherazade herself, as she spins the delectable tales for the misogynistic Sultan. The low brass chords indicate the Sultan’s fatalistic temperament, ultimately assuaged by Scheherazade’s voyeuristic tales. This epic work captures the Oriental mystique and story-telling confidence that has made Scheherazade one of music’s most beloved moments.
Copyright © Stephen Aechternacht
Rujuta Narweker was born and raised in Mumbai, India and came to the US for undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. After completing her business degree at U of M, she relocated to Austin to work for a fortune 50 corporation. With the support and encouragement of her husband, Rujuta has been able to pursue her passion for acting and is currently a working actor based out of Austin, TX.
Rujuta believes that the complete surrender of one’s ego and past conditioning enables the performer to best capture the essence of every character and story. The practice of Sahaja Yoga meditation continues to be the source of Rujuta’s energy and philosophy in life.
Rujuta’s recent work includes ‘Kavi’ a contemporary dance performance and theatre plays in English and regional Indian languages: ‘Bunnicula’ (2014); ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ (2014); ‘Kirdaar’ (2014); ‘Little Red Chunari’ (2014); ‘The Magnolia Foundling’ (2013); ‘Kaka Mala Vachva’ (2013); ‘The Forgotten Trail’ (2012); ‘Lanka: An Epic on Stage’ (2010). She is also currently training in Kathak, an Indian classical dance with her Guru Smt. Varsha Jawadekar.
Charles “Chuck” Ney is a professor of acting and directing in the Department of Theatre & Dance at Texas State University where he is head of directing. Past positions include artistic director at Idaho Repertory Theatre, Manhattan Clearing House, and Mary Moody Northern Theatre.
Recent acting credits include Leonard in Seminar, Polonius in Hamlet, Henry Boyd in The Two Lives of Napoleon Beazley (for which he was nominated for outstanding lead actor – Austin Circle of Theatres) Nonno in Night of the Iguana and Gonzalo in The Tempest. He has directed at the Kennedy Center (Top Girls), Manhattan Theatre Club (Going After Cacciato), Illinois Shakespeare Festival (Comedy of Errors), Texas Shakespeare Festival (Measure for Measure, Comedy of Errors, Cymbeline), Idaho Repertory Theatre (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Two Booths and a Lincoln, Lost in Yonkers) and Zachary Scott Theatre Center (On Golden Pond). His Texas State directing credits include Richard III (nominated for 7 Austin Circle of Theatre Awards including best director and best production) As You Like It, Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, A Little Night Music, Transposing Shakespeare, and Tongue of a Bird.
Since 2004 he has traveled to Shakespeare theaters coast to coast, interviewing over 50 artistic directors and directors about their working methods and productions. He has written articles for American Theatre on his work and just finished part one of a two book series, Directing Shakespeare in America: Early Twenty-First Century Perspectives. Part two will be A Historical Survey of American Directors and Approaches.
His PhD is from the University of Illinois. He received his MFA in directing from Southern Methodist University where he took an additional year’s training in their MFA acting program. His BFA is from Illinois Wesleyan University.
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Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade Op. 35 & Tsar Saltan Op. 57 & Russian Easter Overture Op. 36Purchase at Amazon