Tuesday, February 7, 2012: Bnkkky, drrrnky, pííísk??

As Svatopluk Zaal plays the real thing, the audience twiddles its fingers to play air trumpet

Bnkkky, drrrrnky, pííísk a bummm??

Bnkkky, drrrrnky, pííísk a bummm!

What better title for a concert series for children? That’s the sound that an entranced audience mostly aged 10 and under came to hear at the Rudolfinum Jan 28. And they weren’t disappointed. The concerts, held at 10 am and repeated at noon, were performed by the accomplished members of the Prague Philharmonia (PKF), and emceed by three young costumed clowns.

Led by the young conductor Marek Šedivý, the 16-piece chamber orchestra seemed to enjoy the music and the instruments as much as the kids did. It was hard to find a musician, even in the throes of playing solos or difficult parts, who wasn’t smiling at the same time. Even the bassoon player Václav Furbach joked and hammed up his “interview” before demonstrating how this funny-looking instrument sounded.

The clowns introduced the parts of the orchestra and directed the audience participation. And there was plenty. Sometimes selected children were right on stage next to the cello or the violin or the timpani; at other times the whole audience pointed, raised their hands, air conducted, or kept time by patting their legs.

Yellow, red, green, and blue flags held by four children onstage mark off the string sections during the Prague Philharmonia's performance of Vivaldi's Four Seasons, at a recent children's concert

Four children – Josef, age 5; Anička, 9; another Josef, 5; and Alexandr, 7 – were chosen to climb up to the stage and mark off the four parts of the string section with bright-colored ribbon. Then each child was handed a matching scarf. As each section played, the appropriate child or children enthusiastically waved their scarf so that the audience could clearly see and hear the parts.

What did they hear? Vivaldi’s “Winter” movement from The Four Seasons. It was a perfect choice for this chilly January day, because when concert master Jakub Fišer’s solo violin “shivered” the notes, the audience hugged their shoulders and shivered right along with his music. It was a brilliant way to show how an orchestra works together, and how its different “colors” add up to a memorable, emotive piece of classical music.

The program concluded with the awarding of three prizes for children who had earlier entered a contest drawing. But door prizes were hardly necessary. Watching the audience participation and reaction, it seems safe to say that everyone in the hall relished the gift of developing patient, careful listening, and the rewards of hearing classical music, live. — oo

– Mary Matz

The next Prague Philharmonia concert for children is Sun, Feb 12 and features music for fairy tales.

Photo Credits: Miroslav Setnička

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