Musicians, Theorists, and Historians Uncover the Truth in Art
This November the UK School of Music Opera Theatre will be bring to life Silent Night, a story of the spontaneous and unofficial 1914 Christmas Day truce in the midst of one of the bloodiest conflicts in human history. Leading up to the performance, professors from across the University will be coming together in a lecture series that brings musical, historical, and cultural context to the dramatic event and to the opera itself.
Imagine yourself huddled into a muddy trench on the western front with the rest of your bedraggled platoon. It’s been a long, grueling year fighting for your life in a war that seems to have no meaning, but you and your brothers are aiming to lift each other spirits tonight – and perhaps pester the Germans that can certainly hear you across the artillery-ploughed field. With a bit of amateur conducting by a young officer, you all break into a chorus of Land of Hope and Glory to fill the night with song. As the last note dies on your lips, a group cheer spattered with applause breaks out across the way and then is quickly followed by a complimentary performance of Deutschlandlied in the distance, much to your amusement. Impossible as it sounds in a war-torn continent, such were the complex front-line relations between enemy soldiers in the early years of World War I.
Small and often missed details like the very real example above are the everyday research of Musicologists, as music and the people that make it are best understood in context — politically, socially, and culturally. 2018 marks 100 years since the end of World War I, and while in the grand scheme of human history that may not seem all too long ago the cultural and artistic landscape would be nearly unrecognizable to the average adult today. The interdisciplinary lecture series Music, History, and Culture in the Shadow of the Great War seeks to bridge that gap for Opera-goers. Lecture attendees can absorb the musical landscape of the time, learn about the role of Women’s Suffrage in the War, hear a critical analysis of the modern opera commemorating the event, and get more details on how, when, and where the Christmas Truce occurred in 1914. Thoroughly educated on the matter, performance attendees will certainly find the opera a richer experience.
Music, History, and Culture in the Shadow of the Great War is a 6 part series hosted by UK Opera Theatre and the UK Opera Research Alliance, organized by Dr. Diana Hallman with the support of the College of Fine Arts and School of Music Centennial funding. Most lectures take place Tuesdays at 4:30pm in the John Jacob Niles Gallery of the Lucille Little Fine Arts Library beginning October 2nd and are free and open to public. To learn more about lecture topics, dates, and other enlightening lecture series, visit the Musicology & Ethnomusicology page and select Lectures & Colloquia.
Silent Night is a 2012 Pulitzer Prize award-winning opera by composer Kevin Putz and librettist Mark Campbell based in part on the multilingual screenplay of the 2005 film Joyeux Noël; various parts may be heard sung in English, French, and German with some Italian and Latin. The world premiere in St. Paul, Minnesota opened to high acclaim in Opera News, The New York Times, and other critical outlets, and went on to sell out the season and gain international notoriety.