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NSO Family Concert

The entire Ionarts clan was pressed into service this weekend. We welcome this review from Mrs. Ionarts, who accompanied Master Ionarts and Miss Ionarts to a concert on Sunday.

Peter and the Wolf, Members of Magic Circle Mime Company, photo by David Watanabel
Peter and the Wolf, Members of Magic Circle Mime Company
photo by David Watanabel
The freqently lamented greying of the classical music audience was not in evidence Sunday afternoon at the Kennedy Center, unless you included grandparents with their grandchildren in tow. Children of all ages poured into the Concert Hall for a lively Family Concert by the National Symphony Orchestra and the Magic Circle Mime Company.

Maggie Petersen, an energetic female mime, warmed up the audience with a series of silly stretches and exercises. She then turned her attention to the orchestra and guided them through the same. This reviewer has attended many orchestra concerts but has never seen the orchestra warm up with jumping jacks and face stretches! Opening the program was Franz von Suppé's Light Cavalry Overture. Conductor Emil de Cou challenged the audience to figure out what animal is depicted by the music. When the music ended, several young attendees correctly yelled out "horse."

This was a pleasant enough prelude to the concert's main event, Prokofiev's familiar tone poem Peter and the Wolf. De Cou was his usual charming self, introducing the various characters and their musical motifs. The bird was portrayed by the flutist, wearing a funny feathery yellow jacket. He, along with the oboist wearing a duck hat and the clarinetist dressed as the cat, was promoted from the woodwind section to seats of honor at the front of the orchestra. This allowed them to participate in the action, which often entailed carrying their music and stands around the stage. This seems like it would have been difficult to carry out, but the instrumentalists were obviously well rehearsed and the action came off without a hitch.

Children's Concerts Remaining This Season:

National Symphony OrchestraBaltimore Symphony Orchestra
Maggie successfully passed a faux audition for the part of Peter, showing how strong and brave she was. The conductor, who obviously enjoys this kind of performance, played the role of the Grandfather. The hunters were played by a trumpeter, a trombonist, and a French hornist, who came out from the back of the orchestra as needed, wielding their instruments as guns. The wolf was played by another mime from the Magic Circle Mime Company, Douglas MacIntyre. The audience was kept captivated by the lively acting and excellent playing.

Master Ionarts and Miss Ionarts thoroughly enjoyed the performance and were kept in rapt attention throughout. Master Ionarts had to be reminded not to yell things out to the performers. When asked, Master Ionarts, age 6, said that the cat was his favorite character and that his favorite moment was when the duck and the bird became friends. Miss Ionarts, age 3, said that the girl (Peter played by Maggie Petersen) was her favorite.

We went to the Instrument Petting Zoo before the concert, but quickly had to leave because it focused on percussion instruments and was too loud for Master Ionarts. The Petting Zoo is a great idea, but seems to be so popular that it has gotten very crowded in recent years. In all, a delightful afternoon at the Kennedy Center was had by Mrs. Ionarts with Master Ionarts and Miss Ionarts, who are both looking forward to their next performance.

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