“‘Peter and the Wolf’ is the perfect music to introduce classical music to the next generation,” said Thomas Heuser.
Heuser is music director of the San Juan Symphony, our regional orchestra, and will present a trio of family concerts over the weekend to make good on that claim. Joining him as narrator will be Scott Michlin, general manager of KSJE in Farmington.
Because of a grant, the family concerts have been made affordable and available to three communities in the Four Corners. The 25-minute work will be performed late afternoon Saturday in Farmington, early afternoon Sunday in Bayfield, and again later that day in Durango at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College. Children younger than 14 are free. General admission is $10, paid at the door.
“We’re thrilled to offer the concert free for kids and thrilled to present an Instrument Petting Zoo ahead of time,” Heuser said. “Kids can try the instruments they’ll hear in the performance.”
The beloved classic has been around more than 80 years. Back in 1936, Russian composer Serge Prokofiev set the short fairy tale to music. It’s been a staple of concerts for children and families ever since. Besides a colorful story about a boy out for a walk who encounters a wolf, it’s a simple and beguiling introduction to the instruments of the orchestra.
The Central Children’s Theatre of Russia commissioned Prokofiev to set the story to music.
A narrator sets the story in motion as the music introduces Peter on a jaunty walk represented by the strings. Peter encounters distinctive creatures with voices of particular instruments: a bird/flute, a cat/clarinet, a duck/oboe, etc.
The menacing wolf is portrayed by horns, and Peter’s kindly grandfather sounds like a bassoon.
In the end, Peter’s walk becomes a grand march and incorporates all the creatures. It’s a tune you probably already know and will never forget.
Judith Reynolds is an arts journalist and member of the American Theatre Critics Association.