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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    School of Music to present the Bard’s love life

    Most ninth-graders probably equate Shakespeare with tedious jibber-jabber when they are forced to read the famous playwright in high school. But tomorrow’s performance of “”A Midsummer Night’s Dream”” should dispel those adolescent memories of the play.

    The UA School of Music will present a unique performance on Friday, bringing together one of literature’s greatest playwrights with one of music’s greatest composers. Aptly titled “”Shakespeare and Love: A Valentine’s Day Offering,”” students and faculty will present an abridged version of Shakespeare’s “”A Midsummer Night’s Dream”” and also perform some of Felix Mendelssohn’s most popular arrangements for voice and piano, such as “”The Wedding March.””

    The concert is a collaborative effort between music students and faculty. Special guests in the performance include professor Michael Drake, lunar and planetary sciences department head, who is playing the narrator and the character of Theseus.

    Another distinctive guest performer is veteran announcer for KUAT radio and former actor Bill Pitts, who will be playing Oberon, the king of the fairies. Paula Fan, school of music regents’ professor, described Pitts as an illustrious actor who the school of music is thankful to have in the concert.

    The music, which consists of a single player at each of the two pianos and singers, is a key component for the theme of love in the performance.

    “”Mendelssohn composed incidental music for the play in 1846. He then arranged it for piano for four hands,”” Fan said. “”Though the music is wonderful there needs to be some sense of context for the music. The Overture to ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ is very well known. The rest of the incidental music, except for the famous ‘Wedding March,’ is not nearly as familiar.””

    This version of the play was cut down to allow time for the musical aspect of the show.

    “”The late Arthur Kay, professor emeritus of English at the U of A, cut the script down to a reasonable size, and composed Shakespearean doggerel to link everything together,”” Fan said.

    In the performance, the role of the music changes, as it is sometimes featured dominantly, while other times it is heard in the background.

    One of the most exciting aspects of the performance for Fan is the pianos that will be used for the performance.

    “”Steinway is loaning us two famous pianos. They are famous because of who played them,”” Fan said.

    The individuals that played these 9-foot grand pianos were renowned pianists Vladimir Horowitz, the first American to win the Tchaikovsky competition, and Van Cliburn. These pianos will stay at the UA for about five days and will then be transferred elsewhere.

    The “”Shakespeare and Love”” performance demonstrates a clever way of linking together drama, love and music.

    “”We’re really excited. We’re mixing drama and music. It’s a wonderful opportunity to see a classic play performed with exquisite music,”” Fan said.

    “”Shakespeare and Love: A Valentine’s Day Offering”” will perform tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. in Crowder Hall in the Music building. Admission is free.

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