Cinderella, Bob Brown Puppets
This concert opened with the young Bulgarian guest conductor Danail Rachev, whose wild hair invites comparison to Gustavo Dudamel, leading a performance of the Mazurka from Delibes' Coppélia. Rachev gave capable, solid leadership on the podium and provided interesting, child-appropriate narration. The puppet stage was set up on the left side of the proscenium, hiding much of the violin section, with the genial narrator, Rheda Becker, to the right. The puppets were large, colorful, and appealing to both of the Ionarts children, from the large storybook that turned into backdrops to the transformation of the ash girl into the princess in her pumpkin carriage. Miss Ionarts spoke most about Cinderella afterwards, while Master Ionarts liked the Prince's dog, Humphrey, and the light bulb that appeared over the dog's head when he had an idea.
What these two puppet concerts with the BSO have shown is that modern music -- Stravinsky and now Prokofiev -- can be just as appealing to children as earlier, more tonal music. It is a challenge that more living composers should take: can you compose a 25-minute score for a puppet show that children won't hate and adults would still find interesting? Philip Glass, Pascal Dusapin, Hans Werner Henze, Kaija Saariaho? Anyone? Actually, John Adams said something related to this last September. This fine concert concluded with another non-puppet performance, of Chopin's Grande Valse brillante (as orchestrated by Glazunov for Mikhail Fokine's Les Sylphides). For children's concerts like this, the Ionarts clan does not mind the drive to Baltimore at all.