A Soldier and The King
Assistant professor of music Jacqueline Wilson stole the opening act of 'A Soldier and the King' Sunday, Aug. 26, strutting around the stage and putting fire into the soul at Shuck Recital Hall.
The Southeast Faculty Ensemble opened the show with Elvis Presley's "Also Sprach Zarathustra," but when it led into Elvis' iconic ditty "Closing Vamp," Wilson turned on the heat. The bassoonist-turned-Vegas performer kicked open the doors, dressed as the King of Rock 'n' Roll. With the crowd behind her from the moment she stepped foot on stage, Wilson paraded around the venue tossing flower leis into the audience.
“The bassoonist is supposed to dress up like Elvis,” Assistant Professor of Music Jacqueline Wilson explained. The composer specifies the bassoonist is supposed to be an Elvis impersonator, even utilizing exaggerated “Elvis vibrato” playing style. This bizarre entrance and musical segway set the tone for the rest of the show as being anything but your typical chamber ensemble music.
The first piece, Dead Elvis, is a nearly ten-minute sonic experiment of familiar and alien sounds centered around the same themes as its sister piece, Histoire du Soldat by Igor Stravinsky.
“Dead Elvis is scored for the same instrumentation as Histoire du Soldat, in which a soldier sells his violin — and his soul — to the devil for a magic book,” Michael Dougherty noted in the show’s program.
The rest of the show ran effortlessly, with musical passages interwoven with dramatic and comedic acting segments throughout, telling the story of a soldier who trades his fiddle to the devil in return for unlimited economic gain.
The Southeast Faculty Ensemble was joined by three vocal performers. Applied Flute Instructor, Paul Thompson narrated the show, Professor of Applied Voice, Timothy Schmidt played the devil and Professor of Applied Voice, Opera, and Vocal Literature, Christopher Goeke played the soldier.
Aside from the themes, this setlist also holds personal significance with Wilson.
“This particular program is one that my teacher performed when I was in undergraduate school and it always stuck in the back of my mind as a cool idea for the Sundays at Three concert series,” Wilson said. “Histoire du Soldat is a really important piece of 20th-century chamber music. I always wondered when my time would come to play it because most of my colleagues have played it before.
It feels like a rite of passage to play these pieces, like a great check off my bucket list," Wilson added.
The River Campus will host the next Sundays at Three concert on Sept. 22, when the Artemisia vocal trio from Chicago rolls into Cape Girardeau. For more information on the Sundays at Three concert series, visit rivercampus.org.