June 13, 2007

Music festival coming to Mount Vernon

by Andrea Hahn


CARBONDALE, Ill. — The Southern Illinois Music Festival, sponsored by Southern Illinois University Carbondale, brings two concerts to the Cedarhurst Center for the Arts in Mount Vernon this summer.

A chamber concert comes to the Schweinfurth House the evening of June 21. The performance features Stravinsky's "A Soldier's Tale" performed by a mixed ensemble with narration by Rick Williams, professor emeritus of classics and former director of the honors program at SIUC. The text is by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Vonnegut was commissioned to write the libretto by the New York Philomusica in 1993. He presents the story of Eddie Slovik, the last American soldier executed for cowardice and desertion. Vonnegut refers to Slovik in his novel, "Slaughterhouse Five."

The concert also includes the Carmen Suite from the French opera by Georges Bizet. The opera, said to be one of the most popular in the world, tells about the recklessly beautiful gypsy Carmen, for whose fickle love a military man mutinies and goes mad. The tone or symphonic poem about a German peasant folk hero, "Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks" by a master of the form, Richard Strauss, rounds out the concert.

Earlier in the day, the Stravinsky section of the concert forms the centerpiece of Klassics for Kids, a free, interactive program designed to introduce classical music to children up to 8 years old. Edward Benyas, SIUC music professor, conductor of the Chicago Chamber Orchestra and the festival's founder and artistic director, said musical education is an important component of the festival. Bringing the music festival to multiple venues in Southern Illinois makes it easier for families to attend the events without significant travel time.

More information and a complete list of events and venues are available at www.SIFest.com or by calling 618-53-MUSIC or 618/453-2776.

Besides SIUC, other major sponsors include the Illinois Arts Council, the City of Carbondale, The Southern Illinoisan, WSIL-TV, WSIU Public Broadcasting, Carbondale Community Arts, Shawnee Hills Wine Trail, Southern Illinois Miners, Mélange, Boundless Gallery.com, Dr. Samuel Goldman, the Julia Harrison Bruce Foundation-Bank of Herrin Trustee, the Garwin Family Foundation, Hastings Foundation, Moore-Corpora Foundation, SISO Patrons Committee and Southern Foundation.

The Mount Vernon event information is below:

Thursday, June 21

• Klassics for Kids (up to 8 years old), 4 p.m., Schweinfurth House. Stravinsky: "A Soldier's Tale," performed by mixed ensemble with text by Kurt Vonnegut, narrated by Rick Williams

• Chamber Concert, 7:30 p.m., Schweinfurth House, Stravinsky: "A Soldier's Tale"; Bizet: Carmen Suite; Richard Strauss: "Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks." Narrated by Rick Williams. $7 adults, $4 students