March 25, 2010

Family Concert Shows Kids How to Compose Music

The RPO’s upcoming orKIDStra family concert on Sunday, April 11 features Mr. Smith's Composition, which will take you on a hilarious and educational journey into the mind of Mr. Smith as he composes. You’ll hear him consider whether to write a waltz or a march, a fast piece or a slow one, and along the way introduce children to different instruments and different styles of music.

We checked in with Michael Butterman (pictured), the RPO’s Principal Conductor for Education and Outreach, to learn more about the piece. He says that “it’s fairly theatrical and there is a portion, toward the end, where the composer realizes that he hasn't provided an ending to his piece. He then presents three possible options and the audience votes on which one they prefer.”

Michael went on to say, “The other pieces on the program are related in one way or another to the idea of expressing or communicating through music, which is of course what composers do. Bizet’s Children’s Games is a nice opener and I’ll ask the kids what they think the composer was trying to convey and then contrast that with Walker’s Lyric for Strings.

“We’ll hear from a ‘live’ composer in RPO trumpeter Wes Nance. His suite for brass quintet relates to his children and he has promised some stories about the genesis of the two excerpts we're playing. Then, he's going to talk a bit about writing for orchestra, as opposed to a chamber ensemble. We'll hear an excerpt of his Rhumba for brass, and then the whole piece played by the full orchestra, for contrast.

“We’ll also have a little audience-participation segment in which the orchestra plays three well-known melodies and relates the beginning, middle, and ending of those melodies with the head, torso, and tail of an animal. Each melody has its own animal (represented in illustrations on poster boards that will be held by kids). We'll mix them around and see what zaniness results.”

Click here for more information about this concert.

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