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Sinclair Lectures on “The Nutcracker”

Russian Club president Amy Gobel’08 (left) and member Elizabeth Gribkoff ’09 (right) pose with conductor James Sinclair (center) after his lecture. PHOTO/Jin Ha '08

The Nutcracker Ballet is a childhood favorite as well as an annual holiday tradition performed worldwide. On Monday, November 5, many students gathered in the Sally Hart Lodge to learn more about it during James Sinclair’s lecture, courtesy of the Russian club. James Sinclair is the conductor and music director for Orchestra New England, which will be performing The Nutcracker with the New Haven Ballet at the Schubert Theater on December 8 and 9.

During his lecture, Mr. Sinclair enthusiastically revealed the beloved story of The Nutcracker through Tchaikovsky’s impeccable and lighthearted music. He began with a brief overview of Tchaikovsky’s background history.

Tchaikovsky was born in Russia in 1840, and died mysteriously in 1893. The Nutcracker was written towards the end of his life, in 1892. Tchaikovsky is extremely well known for his “story” ballets; his other two most famous works are Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty. Compared to his previous ballets, The Nutcracker is far more optimistic and cheerful in its musical composition. In fact, celebratory dances and music comprise the entire second half of the ballet.

Mr. Sinclair pointed out that in The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky avoids low, heavy music and focuses on miniature, almost “toy-like sounds,” including such instruments as the French horn and the celesta, an instrument similar to a miniature piano used in many pieces such as the classic “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy.”

“Mr.Sinclair gave a detailed and enlightening descripition of the Nutcracker, its origins and the story behind the music. It was very interseting to learn about the connection between the music and the ballet,” said Dan Pahl ’10, a dancer in the New Haven Ballet.

The Russian Club hosted this event. The Club meets regularly to discuss Russian language and culture. Members recently traveled to Brighton beach to talk with the Russian immigrants who live there. Amy Gobel ’08, president of the Russian Club and a dancer in the New Haven Ballet, organized this lecture after developing an interest in Tchaikovsky and his work. Amy has performed in The Nutcracker eight times and will be playing her ninth role as the flower soloist and snow queen in the upcoming production.


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