Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Music and Dance for Children

The afternoon of January 26, the Durham Symphony Orchestra, led by its music director William Henry Curry, presented a concert and dance performance aimed at a young audience. As a prelude, High Strung Violins set up an instrument petting zoo to give the young folk a chance - in most cases their very first chance - to see what it might feel like to play an orchestral string instrument. They provided various sizes of violins and cellos, and even a guitar for contrast.

(I chose to present these images in black and white because I felt that the bright colored clothing that was abundant all around was a distraction from the much more interesting expressions on the children's faces.)

A left handed approach:

Please keep in mind, I am not making fun of the way these young kids are holding the instruments. They're trying something new. I just can't help myself with the well-intentioned comments because...well, because I'm a violinist, and it's hard to "turn it off"!
Mastering the technique of "sul tasto" or "sur la touche" bowing:

Then it was time for the concert to begin, with works by Bizet, drawn from L'Arlesienne and Carmen. These, along with individual demos, served as an introduction to the instruments of the orchestra.

Next up was the featured performance, with choreographer and narrator Chuck Davis and members of the African American Dance Ensemble joining the DSO for a rendition of the classic story of Babar the Elephant, with music by Francis Poulenc.

The hunter and other characters followed the story line of the original 1937 book by Jean de Brunhoff.

After the crowning and conclusion of the dance with a few audience members invited to participate as guests at the coronation, the performers were treated to a rousing ovation.

At that point, I had to hurry home to prepare for my own evening performance with the North Carolina Symphony, guest conductor Mei-Ann Chen, and pianist Lise de la Salle.


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