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"Peter and the Wolf"...

Monday, February 1, 2016
...was the performance at the RiverCenter when I was volunteering on Sunday night. I was reminded that it was written to help schoolchildren better understand and appreciate concert music. Last night it was performed by members of the Columbus Symphony and a group of young students from the Columbus Ballet. The youngest children in the dancing troupe were cute little girls of elementary age, with quite a few little round bellies from girls who have yet to shed their baby fat. Wearing leotards and butterfly wings, ballet slippers, seriously prancing around on the stage in the proper order.

The director of the symphony explained to a fairly small audience before the performance started that the different instruments were 'playing the part' of each character, as that character stepped forth for an introduction. Many young children in the audience, some of who had taken the opportunity to attend the pre-show 'petting zoo' and become acquainted with the woodwinds, brass, percussion and other instruments. Then the show began, telling of young Peter, living with his crochety grandfather, and the animals: bird, cat, duck, and wolf creeping in from the forest. With the different instruments performing as various characters took part in dancing on stage. Of course, in a children's tale, everyone lives happily ever after, so the wolf was captured and taken to the zoo, rather than facing a bad end. It was not a long concert/event: over in less than forty five minutes from when the orchestra began, so a pretty short event. But hopefully giving families with young children an opportunity for a positive experience to classical music and introduction to the workings of symphony experience.

My knowledge of "Peter and the Wolf" was limited to Music 101, many many years ago, back when I probably listened to it on a cassette tape, so it was pretty vague.  I definitely did not grow up in a home where this type music was present: the kind of stuff you hear in the middle of the day on public radio. But when the music started, I discovered that the tunes identifying the different characters to be quite recognizable. Realizing this is the the background music I hear when I make my annual walk through the Fantasy in Lights Show at Callaway Gardens. I think this music is played when you get to the part of the tour going through the snowflake forest, where strings of clear/white lights are hung by the hundreds, from wires stretched from tree to tree along the roadway. Brilliantly lighting that section of the woodlands as we pass through. So it was quite familiar, and a very pleasant surprise!

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