Monday, December 5, 2011: Resounding Success
Opus Osm sent writer Katie Perkins and her 3-month-old son Ruben to a Family Concert recently. “Unfortunately, Ruben fell asleep on the tram ride there and missed all the action,” Katie reports, but you can read the rest of her report below.
“When the Orchestra Resounds to the Full” in the Prague Symphony Orchestra (FOK) series of Family Concerts at Obecní Dům Nov 27 featured a dynamic selection of pieces conducted by Marek Štilec.
It opened with Antonin Dvořák’s Carnival Overture – Opus 92. It’s part of Dvořák’s “Nature, Life and Love” trilogy, featuring flutes, piccolo, oboes, and horn, as well as lots of fun timpani rolls, cymbals, and tambourine. It’s an enthusiastic, uproarious tribute to the carnival of life. The kids in the audience were kept glued to their seats – waiting for the next big burst of brass and pound of timpani.
The second composition, from Luboš Fišer, is called Double. It’s a bit of a quirky number, but very engaging. It begins with a playful bit of plucking from the strings, which resonates impressively in Smetana Hall. Part of the piece builds in a crescendo of dissonant chords that then resolve back to a complete major tone, creating real tension and intrigue.
The last piece was Benjamin Britten’s classic primer for youngsters on the elements of the symphony, The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. It was originally composed to accompany an educational film produced by the British government. Playing on variations of a melody from Henry Purcell’s Abdelazar, each part features a different instrument from the orchestra.Actor Jan Št´astný read the playful text describing the qualities of each featured instrument before it played. Britten then makes his way through the woodwinds and strings, includes a lovely section for the harp, and there’s even a section highlighting the percussion, from the triangle to the xylophone. The whole orchestra then plays together for a final fugue.
The piece as a whole is a great way to learn not only what the instrument sounds like solo, but also how each instrument can stand out or sing within the full orchestra.
So what did the families think of this Family Concert? From what I could see, most of the kids in the audience sat spellbound throughout the 45 minute program; one little boy in the right box seats practiced mock conducting for the Fišer piece.
The Family Concert series provides an excellent gateway to introduce kids to classical music, musical instruments, and the power a full orchestra can provide. The series returns March 18, and I’m looking forward to the upcoming solo, choir, and film music. My son Ruben will be an old man of 7 months by then, so maybe he’ll stay awake for this concert with the intriguing title, “Music for the Shah of Persia.”– oo
– Katie Perkins
Photo Credits: Top: Miroslav Setnička