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Pacific Symphony and Magic Circle Mime Co. bring to life Prokofiev’s beloved children’s tale, “Peter and the Wolf,” for fun and entertaining Family Series season finale
Orange County, Calif. — April 10, 2014
Pacific Symphony presents the perfect story to introduce children to the sounds of the orchestra—Prokofiev’s wildly popular and charming “Peter and the Wolf”—which wraps up this season’s Family Musical Mornings series, presented by Farmers and Merchants Bank. The imaginative duo from Magic Circle Mime Co., Maggie Petersen and Doug MacIntyre, tie comedy and movement to the music to illustrate the story of Peter, a brave young boy who must outsmart a wily wolf to help save his animal friends. Along with Assistant Conductor Alejandro Gutiérrez, the Symphony’s principal musicians interact with the mimes and become characters in the story, as Benjamin Smolen (flute) plays the Bird, Jessica Pearlman (oboe) plays the Duck and Benjamin Lulich (clarinet) plays the Cat. With the thundering timpani of the Hunters and the French-horn sounds of the stalking Wolf, Prokofiev’s thrilling music alerts children to the powerful stories music can tell.
“Peter and the Wolf” takes place Saturday, May 10, at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Tickets are $19-39; for more information or to purchase tickets call (714) 755-5799 or visit www.PacificSymphony.org. Building a foundation for a lifetime of classical music appreciation, these 45-minute concerts are designed especially for children ages 5-11, and include an interactive musical carnival before or after the show (details below).
“‘Peter and the Wolf’ is such a great introduction to music for children,” says Maestro Gutiérrez, “because within the captivating story of Peter and his animal friends (played by our musicians), they hear Prokofiev’s beautiful orchestral music and learn to recognize different musical themes and some of the instruments of the orchestra. When following the story, children are stimulated to make essential connections to understand and appreciate orchestral music of high artistic value.”
The concert opens with Von Suppé’s Overture to “Light Calvary,” as the orchestra and mimes prepare children for the gripping musical adventure to come. Praised for developing creative and exciting programs, Magic Circle Mime Co. performed with the Symphony for “Orchestra from Planet X,” “The Listener” and the 2010-11 performance of “Peter and the Wolf.”
“Every choice that the Magic Circle Mime Co. makes in their movement is intricately linked to the music,” says Susan Miller Kotses, Symphony senior director of education. “They use the art form of mime to enhance what is happening musically and to effectively tell the story without words—allowing Prokofiev’s music and the orchestra to really shine.”
Prokofiev wrote “Peter and the Wolf” in 1936 to ignite a love of music in children, and it has since become a classic piece of music featured in many adaptations including Walt Disney’s 1946 animated film and the Academy Award-winning short film by director Suzie Templeton (2006). With a brilliant simplicity that resonates with children of all ages, Prokofiev uses charming motifs repeated by the same instrument to develop the characters in the story including Peter (strings), grandfather (bassoon) and his animal friends.
“Both Ben Lulich and Jessica Pearlman played the Cat and the Duck respectively, the last time the mimes were here,” says Kotses. “Having a chance to watch our musicians move, act and be a physical part of the story is always a great deal of fun for the kids. Our musicians had a great time and showed a great theatrical ‘spark’ during their featured moments.”
Magic Circle Mime Co. is regarded as one of today’s premier family attractions and is known for uniting the concert orchestra with visual theater through innovative and imaginative content. Magic Circle Mime Co. is the creative partnership of Petersen and MacIntyre, who both have backgrounds in theater and instrumental music and have used their training to create highly regarded programs. They have performed with virtually every major orchestra in North America and have a growing reputation outside the U.S. They made their European debut with the Palau de la Música de Valencia in April of 2007.
“Their movement capitalizes on physical comedy, which is always a big hit with young audiences, but also does an excellent job of capturing the full range of emotions of each character,” continues Kotses. “Additionally, using different art forms, such as mime and storytelling, to enhance the orchestra experience provides outstanding entry points to symphonic music for children and adults alike.”
In addition to the concert, families are invited to attend the Symphony’s Musical Carnival—beginning at 9 a.m. (for those attending the 10 a.m. concert) and 12:15 p.m. (for those attending the 11:30 a.m. concert)—where kids enjoy hands-on musical experiences. Children can meet the musicians, test-drive instruments from the woodwind family, play musical games and learn how cellos vibrate to make sound. Plus, a special performance by the fourth and fifth-grade students of Santa Ana Strings is taking place.
Maestro Gutiérrez reflects on the past season: “I have enjoyed each of the Family Musical Mornings concerts this year, because the young audience and their families have allowed me to share some of the most wonderful orchestral music with them, as well as some ballet and opera music for kids. Besides educational and cultural enrichment, fun is also one of the main ingredients in our shows for the season ahead. I just can’t wait to share with my dear young friends and lots of new ones I’m expecting to meet during our concerts.”
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