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West Hartford Symphony’s ‘Classical Family Concert’ Will Appeal to All Ages

Featured soloists who will perform in the WHSO Classical Family Concert on March 4. Courtesy photo

The West Hartford Symphony Orchestra will present a family-friendly classical concert on Sunday, March 4.


The mischievous woodwinds of “Peter and the Wolf” and the thundering lower brass of “Night on Bald Mountain” will fill the Roberts Auditorium at Kingswood Oxford School at 3 p.m., Sunday, March 4, as the West Hartford Symphony Orchestra presents a Classical Family Concert, its first-ever performance designed for a family audience.

“This is a concert for all generations,” said WHSO Music Director Richard Chiarappa. “We hope it will provide an opportunity for children, parents and grandparents to enjoy an afternoon together as they savor a variety of appealing musical styles and learn more about the sounds, instruments, and dynamics of a symphony orchestra.”

The WHSO presents a concert each spring for third-graders in West Hartford’s public schools, but this is the first time in the orchestra’s 16-year history that it will be performing a concert geared to a family audience. “This is something new for us, and something new for the town,” Chiarappa said.

He said he selected both American and European works for the concert to reflect a broad spectrum of musical styles, themes and periods and to showcase individual instruments as well as orchestral sections such as brass, woodwinds, percussion and strings“The instrumentation will vary from a full orchestra to a duet for piano and double bass, the smallest piece we’ve ever presented,” he said. “There will also be a rich mix of tempo changes, sound qualities and timbres, as well as rhythms ranging from a lively allegro to a polka.”

The geographic origins of the concert’s pieces range from Hungary to Hollywood. In addition to “Peter and the Wolf” by Sergei Prokofiev, which will be narrated by Mary Dombroskas, and “Night on Bald Mountain” by Modest Mussorgsky, the program includes:

  • “Hungarian Dance #5” by Johannes Brahms
  • “The Empire Strikes Back” by John Williams
  • “In the Hall of the Mountain King” by Edvard Grieg
  • “Tambourin Chinois” by Fritz Kriesler, featuring a violin solo by Elliott Davis, winner of the 2017 WHSO scholarship.
  • Schwanda the Bagpiper” by “Jaromir Weinberger
  • “The Swan” and “The Elephant” by Camille Saint-Saens, featuring a cello solo by Patrice Knight and a double bass solo by Bruce Rothschild, respectively
  • “Uncle Sal’s Cello,” by Chiarappa himself, performed by 9th grade cellist Kai Vestergaard and narrated by Michael Dunne.

Before each piece is performed, Chiarappa will provide a brief introduction to its genre, composer and history and ask the audience to listen for specific passages, motifs and instruments.

“As a child during the 1950s, I enjoyed Leonard Bernstein’s ‘Young People’s Concerts’ on television, and I learned a lot from the comments he would make before each piece,” Chiarappa said. “So I decided to provide similar introductions for the pieces in this concert.”

Fleming’s Steakhouse will provide refreshments before, during, and after the concert.

Children under 12 years old will be admitted to the concert free of charge. Tickets are priced at $20 for general admission and $15 for seniors and students. Tickets for the Classical Family Concert may be purchased in advance online at WHSO.org or by calling 860-521-4362.

Kingswood Oxford School is located on the east side of Trout Brook Drive between Farmington Avenue and the Boulevard in West Hartford. Handicapped parking is available on the campus at the end of Outlook Avenue, and free parking is available in the Trout Brook lot directly behind the Roberts Auditorium, where the concert will be held.

The WHSO website design is supported in part by the Greater Hartford Arts Campaign and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.

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