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The KPAC Blog features classical music news, reviews, and analysis from South Texas and around the world.

Olmos Brings Stravinsky's 'Soldier's Tale' To Tobin

Igor Stravinsky 1 negative : glass ; 4 x 5 in. or smaller
Harris & Ewing Collection - Library of Congress
Igor Stravinsky, 1937.

When the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts opened in 2014, it was designed to be especially resonant for acoustic music. But since the coronavirus pandemic shut down theaters in March, only one classical concert has happened at the venue.

This Saturday, Olmos Ensemble brings to the Tobin Center a program of music by Maurice Ravel, and “The Soldier’s Tale,” a Faustian story set to music by Igor Stravinsky “at his very, very best,” according to violinist Vadim Gluzman, who takes a featured role in the piece. “Violin being the pivotal cornerstone of the whole story,” Gluzman continues, “Stravinsky gives the violin a huge importance in this work.”

Timothy Jones, baritone, will narrate the performance. He says he’s looking forward to being in front of an audience again.

“We want to go to these halls and hear live music, music on instruments designed to be performed without amplification, without electronics.”

The nature of live performance itself is also enticing to Jones, who says “In front of a camera, you known you’ll have several takes and be able to fix any kind of problem. Being a live performer, you fix the problems as they occur on stage! It kind of blends into what the story is about. You can’t go back to the past.”

“The Soldier’s Tale” premiered in 1918, and is based on an old Russian folk take about a violinist who trades his instrument to the devil for riches beyond his wildest dreams.

“It speaks about one of the greatest emotions that we experience in life, and that is temptation,” says Gluzman.

Jones continues, “We are the summation of all our experiences past, present, and what will happen in the future.”

Gluzman is flying in to San Antonio to guest perform with Olmos for the show, Saturday night at 7:30 at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. All seating is general admission, to allow Tobin staff to group audience members in socially-distanced pods.

“I’m really very much looking forward to being back in San Antonio,” Gluzman says. “This is a very dear city in my life. I would like to personally congratulate and express my gratitude to the Olmos Ensemble for having the vision, for having the incredible strength of will, to find creative ways of producing concerts in this difficult time, and for letting us, the musicians, have the luxury of performing together and giving the audience the joy of music.”