Tuesday, March 20, 2012: Concert Makes a Splash

Opus Osm FOK

The Prague Symphony Orchestra's program on water-music for kids made quite a splash Saturday

This FOK Concert Makes a Splash

Classical music, children, and water — perhaps an unlikely combination, but it definitely created waves as part of the Prague Symphony Orchestra (FOK’s) “elements” cycle for children, this one entitled “Water,” this past Saturday at the Municipal House.

I couldn’t help but wonder how the musicians must feel getting “up” for a concert at 11 am on a Saturday. In addition to this being a somewhat unusual concert time, the regular seating arrangement is condensed to make room for various performers on the stage, so the orchestra sits at floor level. And on top of that, there are children wandering around everywhere.

The answer: It’s no problem at all.

The concert was a combination of classical works to reflect the overall water theme, including Dvořák’s Rusalka, Vltava from My Country by Smetana, and The Blue Danube Waltz by Strauss, but there were also songs that the children recognized and could sing along to, such as Ovčáček, Čtveráček.

To illustrate just how child-friendly this concert was, during the intermission the orchestra’s part of the floor was flooded with children eager to get their hands on musical instruments. The musicians patiently let child after child bang the gong, beat drums, blow trumpets, and rub a cello.

The FOK program even managed to squeeze in some ecology. A young man dressed as a vodník, a Slavic water spirit, and his colleague from the human species explained how important water is for life on Earth. They encouraged spring clean-up in the tradition of cleaning wells and springs at this time of year.

The entire performance was permeated with variety: choral singing, ballet dancing, and even some of the children themselves on stage accompanying the orchestra at various times. The rapid changing of accompaniment kept the intended audience engaged.

Opus Osm FOK

When child-like behavior is encouraged at the symphony program for kids, everyone enjoys the music experience

The highlight of the midday performance was the enthusiastic audience participation in providing backup for The Blue Danube Waltz. Whereas normally any kind of rustling sound during a concert would be considered a vile intrusion to be hushed, at the “water” concert children were given pieces of plastic to crinkle in time to the music. It was a special moment.

The concert started more or less formally, but evolved into an organic experience, breaking down the traditional barriers between performers and audience, professionals and amateurs, convention and just plain fun.

And when it was over, a tide of happy children rustled its way out the doors. — oo

– Hana and Frank Trollman

Photo Credits: Frank and Hana Trollman

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