Symphony a delight at Family Concerts

April 01, 1999|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Saturday, my granddaughter Marie and three of her friends celebrated her seventh birthday at Annapolis Symphony Orchestra's Family Concert. Two of the first-graders were seasoned concert-goers and two were attending their first concert.

The orchestra put on two back-to-back concerts at Maryland Hall on Saturday.

The folks at the Annapolis Symphony know how to appeal to children and their parents. Conductor David Wiley, the Roanoke (Va.) Symphony Orchestra's director, clearly enjoys and relates well to children.

Wiley introduced the sections of the orchestra by having the players raise their instruments, then play them to demonstrate the distinctive sounds of strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion before blending together into a glorious whole. The music included lively selections from three operas and operettas.

Before the concert began, the children had a memorable experience visiting the musicians backstage and learning about their instruments. The ASO musicians volunteer for this assignment and their warm rapport with the children attests to their delight at being with them.

The children seemed thrilled by their one-on-one introduction to the orchestra. In an era of computer-generated graphics integrated into education and television videos, children still value personal communication.

When the program began, with the Overture to Mozart's "Marriage of Figaro," at least a dozen preschool children leaned forward in rapt attention.

The rich colors of the orchestra were dramatically displayed in the "March of the Toreadors" from Bizet's "Carmen."

Judy Brown and the Bob Brown puppets joined the orchestra to tell the story of Peter Pan and Wendy, accompanied by songs that included selections from "The Pirates of Penzance."

If spirits ran high when the concert began, they positively soared during the Peter Pan segment, which had pillow fights and a blanket tug-of-war. A Christmas-garden-like village appeared magically with a moon floating above it as the puppets flew off to Never-never Land. There was the thrill of Peter doing battle with Captain Hook, and Tinkerbell being brought back to life by the near-deafening applause of the young audience.

The only criticism Marie, her friends and I had was that from our balcony vantage point the puppeteers were so highly visible that they were a distraction.

The musical program concluded with the Allegro from Rossini's "William Tell Overture," smartly conducted by a little girl celebrating her birthday.

Pub Date: 4/01/99

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