Berkeley Symphony Family Concert
Under the direction of Education Director Ming Luke, the Berkeley Symphony has a history of offering unusually entertaining and educational programs for kids. Last year they provided a fascinating look at American music, from Sousa to Joplin. This year Luke has put together an equally appealing program about the nature of orchestras.
Incidentally, the symphony is in the process of visiting every one of the 11 elementary school in Berkeley and playing the exact same program at each venue. The program includes movements from Beethoven’s Fifth, Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony; a Mozart divertimento, the William Tell Overture, as well as the overture from Die Fledermaus. The program coming up on November 3, is exactly the same, and so you might wonder why would kids want to come and see the same program again.
“We’ve found that kids love repetition,” Luke told us. “It seems counterintuitive. But it’s the same reason that kids often watch something until they memorize it. The familiarity is appealing. We’ve seen it again and again with other programs.”
So on November 3, Ming will once again offer the very same program but he’s adding a twist, a theatrical frame to the performance. During Beethoven’s Fifth, an actor appears on stage to say that he’s a relative of Beethoven and the playing of the music is deplorable. He’s very angry that Luke is “messing” with the orchestra. And so begins a dialogue and an effort to find the problem. Which is that the instruments are in the wrong places. So you have a horn player sitting the first violinist’s chair playing the violin score. Oboists and clarinetists are in each other’s seats, playing each other’s music, and so on.
“Everything sounds ridiculous,” explains Luke, “and so the kids have to work with me to solve the problem by dividing up the instrument into families. We talk about why strings are grouped in the way they are, and why [other] instruments are grouped in the way they are.” At the end, the music is played properly and the program continues.
For kids of all ages: Meet The Symphony, Nov. 3, 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., Malcolm X Elementary, Berkeley $5 -$10, (510) 841-2800. See event info here.
Included in: Kids Around the Bay
Mark MacNamara is a journalist who has written for such publications as Salon.com, Vanity Fair, Newsweek, The Stanford Social Innovation Review and The International Herald Tribune. His website is: macnamband.com.
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