May 29, 2008

Music festival coming to Benton, Sesser, RLC

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Jazz, opera and musical performances for young audiences are coming to Benton, Sesser and Rend Lake College as part of the annual Southern Illinois Music Festival, presented by Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Klassics for Kids, an interactive program that introduces classical music to children from ages 0 to 8, brings a string quartet to Peoples National Bank on the Public Square in Benton beginning at 2 p.m. on June 13. The free program is designed with children in mind, but parents will enjoy it, too.

A chamber music concert begins at 7:30 p.m. on June 13 at the First Baptist Church on Main Street in Benton. The chamber concert uses a musical ensemble smaller than an orchestra to present classical music that has a different feel than a large ensemble. This program includes Jan Nepomuk Hummel, Sergei Prokofiev and Beethoven.

Hummel (1778-1837) and Beethoven (1770-1827) show the transition from the Classical era of music to the Romantic era. The two were both pupils of Franz Joseph Haydn. Hummel also studied with Mozart, though Beethoven did not have that chance. Prokofiev (1891-1953) was a prolific Russian composer famous and beloved for "Peter and the Wolf" and his music composed for ballet, among other works.

Tickets are $12 for general admission, $5 for students of all ages.

Other performances near Benton include a Klassics for Kid performance beginning at 4 p.m. on June 12 at the Sesser Opera House, this time emphasizing wind instruments.

A chamber concert comes to Rend Lake College in Ina beginning at 7:30 p.m. on June 12. This one features Beethoven, but also Poulenc, Martinu and Gershwin.

Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) wrote all sorts of music, and was a member of Les Six, a group of young French composers. His wide-ranging list of works includes the melodrama "L'Histoire de Babar" or, the history of Babar the Elephant, and chamber music emphasizing woodwinds.

The New Arts Jazztet comes to Rend Lake College for a concert beginning at 7:30 p.m. on June 19. The NAJ is an ensemble of SIUC music faculty, all of them notable on their own as musicians and dynamite together. New Arts Jazztet features Tyler Kuebler on woodwinds and MIDI; Bob Allison, trumpet and flugelhorn; Tim Pitchford, trombone; Phil Brown, bass; and Ron Coulter, drums and percussion. They are known for performing original works, but they maintain a deep repertoire of jazz classics. Improvisation is like breathing to this group -- it happens as a natural consequence of playing together. The group performs all over Southern Illinois and at hot jazz spots in other areas, including Chicago and Cincinnati.

Tickets are $12 for general admission, $5 for students of all ages.

Also, take in Rossini's famous opera "The Barber of Seville" at the Sesser Opera House, beginning at 7:30 p.m. on June 26.

The opera, a comedy, premiered in Rome in 1816. Like virtually all Italian comic operas, this is a love story. The wealthy Count Almaviva, wishing to make the beautiful Rosina fall in love with him and not with his money, disguises himself as Lindoro, a poor student. Figaro, the barber of Seville, helps Almaviva in his love quest. Of course Rosina's guardian, Dr. Bartolo, opposes the match because he himself plans to marry the girl. Several disguises later, Almaviva reveals his true identity to Rosina, the two admit their love for each other and, after a tense moment with Bartolo involving a missing escape ladder and a frantic Figaro, arrange their wedding. Figaro appears throughout the two-act opera -- including the funny, famous and often-parodied scene where he shaves Bartolo.

The opera's fame makes it easily referenced in pop culture -- which means many people have heard sections of the music or know parts of the story even if they don't realize it. One of the most famous pop culture uses of The Barber of Seville is surely Warner Bros. 1949 Looney Tunes episode, "The Rabbit of Seville," in which Bugs Bunny uses an over-the-top slapstick version of the shaving scene to humiliate Elmer Fudd. Bugs used the song "Largo al factotum" from the opera in a 1948 episode as well -- wherein he poses as Leopold (Stokowski) to humiliate a cranky opera singer with the famous, "Figaro, Figaro, Figaro" sequence. A 2007 episode of The Simpsons, guest-starring Placido Domingo, cashed in on the opera's fame by using it in the episode's title, "The Homer of Seville." The overture -- without any parody -- plays during the closing credits for the Beatles' movie, "Help."

Tickets for the opera are $12 for general admission, $5 for students of any age. Call 618/625-5322 for ticket order information.

The Sesser Opera House dates to 1914 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Here are the details:

2008 Southern Illinois Music Festival – Benton, Sesser, Rend Lake College

June 12

Klassics for Kids -- Winds, 4 p.m. at Sesser Opera House, free admission.

Chamber Concert -- Beethoven, Poulenc, Martinu and Gershwin, 7:30 p.m., at Rend Lake College, general admission, $12, students, $5.

June 13

Klassics for Kids -- String Quartet, 2 p.m. at Peoples National Bank on the Public Square, Benton, free admission.

Chamber Concert -- Hummel, Prokofiev and Beethoven guitar quartets, 7:30 p.m. at First Baptist Church on Main Street, Benton, general admission, $12, students, $5.

June 19

New Arts Jazztet concert, 7:30 p.m., Rend Lake College, general admission, $12, students, $5.

June 26

Opera -- Rossini: The Barber of Seville, 7:30 p.m. at Sesser Opera House, call 618/625-5322 for tickets, general admission, $12, students, $5

More information and any late changes are at

Sponsors include: SIUC, Illinois Arts Council, The Southern Illinoisan newspaper, WSIL-TV Channel 3 ABC, WSIU Public Broadcasting, Peoples National Bank, Laborers' Union International-Local 773, Southern Illinois Miners, Mélange Coffee House, the Harrison, Hastings, Moore-Corpora, Southern and Garwin Family Foundations, Drs. Hal and Susan Pearlman, Dr. Samuel Goldman, First Southern Bank, Crawford County Arts, Lebanon Fine Arts,, Shawnee Hills Wine Trail, Carbondale Community Arts, and the Southern Illinois Symphony Patrons Committee.