November 21, 2011

The Nutcracker - Magic and Memories

It just wouldn't be the holidays without The Nutcracker. Beloved by generations, the ballet's timeless tale of fantasy, imagination, and enchantment resonates with audiences young and old and perfectly captures the spirit of the holiday season. Whether you have childhood memories of attending with your parents, or more recent memories with your own children, The Nutcracker is a seasonal tradition that inspires remembrance and nostalgia.

As a child, I listened to my father’s old record of The Nutcracker Suite on a daily basis, and still remember the first time my parents took me to see the full ballet. No matter how many times I see the ballet or listen to the music, The Nutcracker still retains the original magic that captivated me when I was young.

For musicians, the memories created by The Nutcracker can be of a slightly different nature. Professional musicians often perform Tchaikovsky’s score multiple times each year, and once in a while, something is bound to go wrong. This week, RPO Principal Clarinetist Kenneth Grant (The Robert J. Strasenburgh Chair) joins us to share some of his own Nutcracker experiences:

My funniest Nutcracker memory was in Columbus, OH, when we did 22 every year. We would lift the pit up to stage level for the overture for each performance. One time, a cellist was leaning back in her chair and when the pit got near the stage lip it caught the scroll of her cello, driving the end pin into the floor. This snapped the neck of the cello, sending pieces of wood into the wind section. As this was occurring we began the overture.
Another time, I forgot to switch clarinets for Le Chocolat. Realizing this, I tried to transpose, failing terribly while the rest of the wind section went into laughter.
A few years after I left Columbus, someone decided to have water fowl on stage during the raising of the Christmas Tree scene. Of course one of the ducks jumped into the pit and started to run around the orchestra until a violist picked it up and threw it back on stage!

Come to Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre this weekend to make Nutcracker memories of your own. Featuring the talented dancers of the Rochester City Ballet, the Bach Children’s Chorus, 150 community children, and Tchaikovsky’s enchanting score performed live by your RPO, The Nutcracker is a holiday classic not to be missed.

The Nutcracker runs for six performances, November 25-27 at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm. Kids' tickets start at $10. For tickets, click here or call the Box Office at 454-2100.

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