Student symphony presents 'Peter and the Wolf'

Posted: Wednesday, November 12, 2008

JUNEAU - Conductor Rick Trostel has heard many musicians tell him that "Peter and the Wolf" first got them interested in playing a certain instrument or in classical music in general. He also wonders if it may have led him to become a conductor.

"It's an enthralling piece of music that just draws people in," Trostel said.

The Sergei Prokofiev piece is a story in music, with different instruments and themes evoking the duck, the wolf, grandpa and Peter. The piece is often accompanied by a narration.

In the Juneau Student Symphony (JSS) performances Nov. 15-17, they will take it a step further.

Tony Newman, the Juneau Empire cartoonist known as "Toe" and the father of JSS violinist Robert Newman, approached Trostel with the idea of drawing a "visual narration" while the orchestra plays.

"I was initially skeptical," Trostel said. "But once I saw an example of it I was just completely captivated.

Playing along with animations isn't entirely new to the JSS. In the JSS's "Fantasia project" this summer, students in the summer fine arts camp created animations to accompany the music the symphony was rehearsing. But during performances, the performers had to play along with the animation as it unfolded, Trostel said.

"In that case we were slaves to the animations," he said. "In this case the animator is slave to the orchestra."

Bill Chalmers will narrate "Peter and the Wolf." With his narration, the engaging music and the live drawings, there is enough going on to warrant repeat attendance.

"I do encourage people to come more than once, because there are so many things going on," Trostel said.

In addition to "Peter and the Wolf," the concert will feature Ethan Seid playing Bach's first violin concerto. Seid, who is in eighth grade, won the Juneau Symphony's youth concerto contest in the spring.

"This is going to be our best concerto performance ever" Trostel said. "Ethan is at the top of his game... and I think the orchestra really rose to his abilities."

The JSS is preparing for another big concert in the spring, in which they will perform their second commissioned place. Australian composer Thomas Reiner is working with JSS to compose a piece using texts from Juneau poets Nora and Richard Dauenhauer. Reiner has already developed a good relationship with JSS musicians, Trostel said.

"Even though he lives so far away, I feel like he's made a close connection with the musicians," he said. "He has been sending drafts of work to all present members of orchestras, they have been sending back feedback, like, 'Hey, this music's too easy! Make it harder for me!'"

The three movements of the piece will explore European and Native American connections and the journey from innocence to despair to hope, Trostel said.

To raise money for the commission, the JSS is selling shares in the piece for $20 a share. The owner of the donation share will be entitled to a copy of ½00 of the store.

Trostel hopes to draw a large audience to the pay-as-you-can concerts.

"I firmly believe that a performance is the proverbial tree in the forest," he said. " If no one listens it makes no sound. The more people at the concert, the more the orchestra is fired up. That's that connection between audience and performers than can be magical."

The Juneau Student Symphony will perform "Peter and the Wolf" Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 16 at 4 p.m. at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center, and Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. at Gastineau School. Performances are pay-as-you-can, with donations split between the Juneau Student Symphony and the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council.

Thomas Reiner is working with JSS to compose a piece using texts from Juneau poets Nora and Richard Dauenhauer. Reiner has already developed a good relationship with JSS musicians, Trostel said.

"Even though he lives so far away, I feel like he's made a close connection with the musicians," he said. "He has been sending drafts of work to all present members of orchestras, they have been sending back feedback, like, 'Hey, this music's too easy! Make it harder for me!'"

The three movements of the piece will explore European and Native American connections and the journey from innocence to despair to hope, Trostel said.

To raise money for the commission, the JSS is selling shares in the piece for $20 a share. The owner of the donation share will be entitled to a copy of ½00 of the store.

Trostel hopes to draw a large audience to the pay-as-you-can concerts.

"I firmly believe that a performance is the proverbial tree in the forest," he said. " If no one listens it makes no sound. The more people at the concert, the more the orchestra is fired up. That's that connection between audience and performers than can be magical."

The Juneau Student Symphony will perform "Peter and the Wolf" Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 16 at 4 p.m. at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center, and Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. at Gastineau School. Performances are pay-as-you-can, with donations split between the Juneau Student Symphony and the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council.



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