Bach Aria Soloists: Artistry Through Collaboration

Clarinetist Jo Ann Sternberg

Since it began in the year 2000, Bach Aria Soloists has made a name for itself through multi-genre collaboration.

The list is long and the range is wide. Past arts partners include bandoneónist Héctor Del Curto, Thai Composer Narong Prangcharoen, Bach scholar Dr. Christoph Wolff, KC jazz saxophonist-educator Bobby Watson and modern dancer Elizabeth Koeppen. However, in a season that has collaborators for every concert, Bach Aria Soloists’ upcoming presentation of L’Histoire du Soldat outdoes them all.

There will be no fewer than 12 artists appearing with BAS’ Elizabeth Suh Lane in Igor Stravinsky’s masterpiece.

“In bringing Stravinsky’s original rendition of L’Histoire du Soldat with instrumental septet, conductor, three actors, PLUS a dancer to our community, Bach Aria Soloists audaciously advances the spirit of collaboration!” says Elizabeth Suh Lane, artistic director/founder and violinist of Bach Aria Soloists.”The excellence of our guest artists was paramount in my selection of each person. Between Bach Aria Soloists’ first half of Baroque gems and the Stravinsky, our Kansas City community is in for a delightful evening.”

L’Histoire du Soldat will be presented as part of Johnson County Community College’s Performing Arts Series at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18. Tickets are $25 and are available at the JCCC Box Office.

Bassist Jeff Harshbarger

Because L’Histoire du Soldat is replete with time signature changes, a septet is often led by a conductor. Handling the baton for this concert is Leslie B. Dunner, who is based in Chicago but travels internationally to lead orchestras. He often conducts in the ballet world and has directed the American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, and the Washington, Orlando and Madison Ballets. In 2014, he conducted South Shore Opera Company’s fall production of William Grant Still’s opera Troubled Island which was rated #1 by the Chicago Sun-Times for “Chicago’s best classical music/opera moments of 2013.”

Performing in the septet is one of New York’s best-known chamber musicians, clarinetist Jo-Ann Sternberg. She leads a diverse musical life as a chamber musician, orchestral player, music educator, and interpreter of new music.

Also performing:

Bassist Jeff Harshbarger has been named Best Bassist by the Pitch and Person of the Year by writer Bill Brownlee in his Plastic Sax jazz blog. A prolific composer and bandleader in his own right, Jeff has recorded and performed across the globe with a wide range of artists.

Two professors of music at the University of Missouri-Kansas City are included: Keith Benjamin, trumpet, and JoDee Davis, trombone. Bassoonist Eric Stomberg teaches at the University of Kansas and has appeared on recordings from the Naxos, Azica, Novona, Summit and Telarc record labels.

Sam Wright

Percussionist Mari Yoshinaga is developing a reputation worldwide for her unique sense of artistry and expression, as a solo artist and with her group, arx duo.

Actors and Dancer

L’Histoire du Soldat is the story of a soldier who trades his fiddle to the devil in return for unlimited economic gain. But the soldier discovers that while he has everything, he does not have the one thing that matters — happiness. He tries to get his fiddle back from the devil and along the way, attempts to save a princess.

As a theatrical work “to be read, played, and danced,” L’Histoire du Soldat has three actors and a dancer performing with the septet.

Robert Gibby Brand, most recently seen in the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre’s Photograph 51,  is the Narrator. Samn Wright, whose one-man show Crazy Horse: A Dream of Thunder a was honored in the Pitch’s Best of Kansas City 2016, is the Soldier. Mark Robbins, long a presence in the KC theater community as an actor and director, is the Devil. Caroline Fogg, Princess, dances with Wylliams-Henry Contemporary Dance Company.

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