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Young performers shine during the Coeur d’Alene Symphony’s ‘Classical Family Fun’

January 18, 2019

Don’t be fooled by the title; “Classical Family Fun: Boléro and More” is not just for families or young children.

Rather, Coeur d’Alene Symphony artistic director and conductor Jan Pellant said it’s more an allusion to the fun, relaxing atmosphere he and the orchestra are hoping to create with the program.

“Our audience, orchestra and conductor, all these three parties would interact with each other greatly and create some great moments, great power, great energy,” he said. “This is mainly the whole idea. It’s not only oriented for certain ages, just to give the idea of having the family relax, have an enjoyable time in the concert hall.”

“Classical Family Fun” will be performed Friday and Saturday at the Salvation Army Kroc Center in Coeur d’Alene.

The first half of the concert will feature a classic piece from French composer Maurice Ravel, the “Mother Goose Suite.”

The suite was originally written as a piano duet for Mimi and Jean Godebski, the children of Polish sculptor Cyprian Godebski, and Ravel’s friend Jacques Charlot transcribed the piece for solo piano the same year it was published.

A year later, in 1911, Ravel orchestrated the suite. It features five pieces: “Pavane of Sleeping Beauty,” “Little Tom Thumb,” “Little Ugly Girl, Empress of the Pagodas,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Fairy Garden.”

The Coeur d’Alene Symphony’s own principal timpanist Chris Grant will then be the featured performer on Sean Beeson’s “Prometheus Rapture: Seven Legends for Snare Drum and Orchestra,” which uses seven pieces to describe the Ancient Greek myth in which Prometheus steals fire from Zeus.

“Generally speaking, one can hear solo snare drum to be played very rarely on the stage,” Pellant said. “This is an instrument that doesn’t create any specific pitch so one could ask ‘How can a snare drum be played 20, 25 minutes, same kind of pattern?’ But it actually is possible because the snare drum has so many expanded and challenging rhythmical patterns that really make a great impact on the audience.”

During the second half of the program, the Coeur d’Alene Symphony will be joined by the North Idaho Youth Symphony for two pieces that Pellant considers standard symphony repertoire.

The first, Benjamin Britten’s “The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra,” gives each section of the orchestra its moment in the spotlight.

The piece begins with the entire orchestra performing a theme. As the piece goes on, each instrument family plays a variation on the theme as a way to demonstrate their tone and capabilities.

The other, which closes the program, is Ravel’s “Boléro,” his most famous composition.

“If all these North Idaho Youth Symphony students would have opportunity to perform these two pieces, they might benefit in the future because they might become professional musicians,” Pellant said. “Any orchestra in the world would definitely be playing these pieces so this is good experience, good opportunity for them to see how the professional field works.”

In between those pieces, the symphony will celebrate the winners of its melody contest, for which children from North Idaho were invited to submit an original melody.

Nearly 150 submissions were received, and the top five melodies were then arranged into minute-long compositions by college students.

Melodies by Jackson Oswald, Raigan Young, Abby Collins, Audrey Morgan Abato and Christopher Ewert were arranged by Christian Price, Nicholas Moeller, Drew Blair, Mikah Turpin and Kathryn Price, respectively.

“There are a lot of great musical ideas happening this year in their pieces,” Pellant said. “One thing is to have some great idea how the music should sound, what kind of melody, harmonies should be there. And the second thing is to be able to really orchestrate well for the orchestra. They have two things to be dealing with, which I believe makes all these composers to have a nice experience.”

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