Firebird comes to life with MOSCMusic, ballet share stage April 8 during Masterworks concert

It’s a classic story. Boy meets bird. Boy saves bird. Boy meets princess. Bird saves boy. Boy marries princess.
See, it’s a classic.
The tale of the magical glowing bird that can be both a blessing and curse set to composer Igor Stravinsky’s music will take the stage in April during the season’s final Masterworks concert.
The Midland-Odessa Symphony and Chorale provides the music with guest dancers Megan Hustel and Paul Tillman of Ballet Arkansas during the 7:30 p.m. April 8 concert at the Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center.
Written for the 1910 Paris season of Sergei Diaghiley’s Ballets Russes with choreography by Michel Fokine, the story is based on Russian fairy tales and premiered in June 2010 in Paris. It was an instant success and also Stravinsky’s breakthrough piece and is now considered a masterpiece work that has been staged many times from groups around the world including the New York City Ballet, the website detailed.
The ballet centers on the journey of hero Prince Ivan who enters a magical realm and captures the Firebird. She begs for her life and he spares her and is given a magic feather. He eventually summons the Firebird to help him in a fight with monsters and they dance an elaborate dance.
MOSC Music Director and Conductor Gary Lewis will conduct the show.
“I wanted this evening to celebrate the traditional pairing of music and dance, so I programmed music that would speak to both audiences. The “Firebird Suite” is one of the finest examples. It’s one of three collaborations between ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev and the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky in the early part of the 20th century,” Lewis said in a news release. “Diaghilev commissioned Stravinsky to create three major ballet scores, one of which is “The Firebird.” This will be an evening of fine symphonic music while pairing some of the pieces with professional ballet. I hope our audience will be moved in ways they may not have yet experienced.”
In addition to Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite” the orchestra will perform “Suite from Swan Lake” by Tchaikovsky. The dancers will join the orchestra for the Grand Pas from “Paquita” by Minkus, and selections from “Who Cares” by Gershwin.
Joining the MOSC are the Ballet Arkansas dancers Hustel and Tillman.
>> Megan Hustel is from Carmel, Ind., and is a recent graduate of the University of Utah with a bachelor’s of fine arts in Ballet Performance from the Department of Ballet. While in Utah, she was a member of Utah Ballet and Ballet Ensemble where she performed in various contemporary works and classical ballets.
Her most notable roles include Swanhilda in Rene Daveluy’s staging of “Coppelia,” Russian Girl in Balanchine’s “Serenade” by repetiteur Zipporah Karz and Big Swan in “Swan Lake” staged by Professor Jay Kim. She also performed as a guest trainee for Ballet West in their production of “Don Quixote” staged by Anna-Marie Holmes.
Hustel began her pre-professional training with Suzann DeLay at the Central Indiana Academy of Dance. As a member of the pre-professional company, Central Indiana Dance Ensemble, she performed leading roles in “The Nutcracker,” “Cinderella” and “The Sleeping Beauty” and participated in Youth America Grand Prix and Regional Dance America. Since joining Ballet Arkansas, she has performed principal roles in Balanchine’s “Who Cares?” and Glinka Pas de Trois, “Habit” pas de deux in Harrison McEldowney’s Group Therapy, “Hurt” soloist in “Under the Lights” choreographed by Chris Stuart, Raymonda in “Raymonda” staged by Michael Bearden, and Snow Queen and Dew Drop in “The Nutcracker.” She is returning to Ballet Arkansas for her third season.
>> Paul Tillman is from McKinney and at age 7, he began training at Dallas Ballet Center. Tillman joined the pre-professional company Dallas Ballet Company, where he performed in many ballets such as “Don Quixote,” “Coppelia,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Raymonda,” “Le Corsaire” and several others. He also performed original choreography by Jason Fowler, Thom Clower, Reginald Harris, and Judy Klopfenstein. Tillman trained with Boston Ballet’s pre-professional program for one season, where he had the opportunity to perform with Boston Ballet in “Swan Lake,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “The Nutcracker” and in Boston Ballet School’s Showcase performing Balanchine’s “Stars and Stripes” and Forsythe’s “In the Middle Somewhat Elevated.”
Tillman is in his seventh season with the Ballet Arkansas. He has performed various classical works, such as Gerald Arpino’s “Birthday Variations,” “Swan Lake” and “Raymonda.” He has also been featured in original choreography such as “Ring of Fire” pas de deux in “Under the Lights” by Chris Stuart, “Narcolepsy” pas de deux in Harrison McEldowney’s “Group Therapy,” “Rerouting” by Greg Sample, “Moultrie Springs” by Darrell Moultrie, multiple works by Kiyon Gaines and many others. Aside from performing, Tillman teaches at several studios in the central Arkansas area.
In the lobby prior to the performance, artist Nikki Smith will present an art exhibit of her work. Three of her works of art graced the MOSC Masterworks Series this season. She is an award-winning artist from Texas.
MOSC patrons are also invited to experience Symphony SoundBites, a pre-concert supper held before the performance in the Rea-Greathouse Recital Hall at the Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center. By purchasing a ticket to the event, patrons will enjoy dining with friends as Maestro Gary Lewis provides an insider’s view of the evening’s program. This is a great way to make new friends while learning about the evening’s music and enhance the symphony experience. Seating is limited and based on a first-come-first-serve basis.
>> On the menu: Chicken stuffed with mushrooms and peppercorns served with Caesar salad, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetable medley, bread and butter, berry tartlets, coffee, iced tea and water. Patrons who have already purchased a ticket for “The Firebird” can purchase Symphony SoundBites tickets for $25 each by calling the Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center at 432-552-4439. Deadline to purchase SoundBites tickets is April 3.
“The Firebird” is sponsored by Ann and Ken Hankins Jr. and KWEL Radio. This concert is supported in part by the Odessa Council for the Arts and Humanities, Arts Council of Midland and Texas Commission on the Arts. For more information on MOSC events, please visit