VAMSO & Goh Ballet breathe life into symphonic fairytale, ‘Peter and the Wolf’

The Vancouver Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra (VAMSO) presents Sergei Prokofiev’s timeless symphonic tale, Peter and the Wolf, November 27, 2016, 2pm at the Orpheum Theatre. This enchanting story of a boy outwitting a wolf will come to life with music by VAMSO’s more than 100 musicians, and a splendid performance by dancers of Goh Ballet choreographed by Adonis Daukaev. Bard on the Beach Founder & famed theatre figure, Christopher Gaze, will lend his voice as narrator for this delightful family event.

“For many growing up, Peter and the Wolf is their first introduction to classical music,” says Joseph Elworthy, Executive Director of the Vancouver Academy of Music. “It brings us tremendous pleasure to share this cherished Russian classic with a new generation of young music lovers, while rekindling fond childhood memories for adults in a presentation marking our first collaboration with Goh Ballet Academy. Highly-regarded in the local arts community, with a profound commitment to excellence, our two schools are a perfect match; this pairing of young talents from VAM and Goh Ballet represents one of future exciting partnerships to come.”

In 1936, Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) was approached by the Central Children’s Theatre in Moscow to create a work to help cultivate children’s musical tastes. In four short days, he penned one of his most celebrated scores, Peter and the Wolf. The fable follows a boy named Peter residing safely in the forest with his grandfather, until one day he ventures into the meadow where woodland animals warn him of a wolf on the prowl. Ignoring the cautions of his grandpa, Peter braves his gnarly foe to save his newfound friends.

Today, Peter and the Wolf is widely referred to in early music education as a study of the four instrument families. Each character represents a different instrument: Peter the strings, Bird as the flute, Cat voiced by clarinet, Duck as the oboe, Wolf as French horn, among others. Exceptional students from Goh Ballet’s Junior and Senior Professional Schools will portray these five named characters.

As a staple of children’s repertory, Peter and the Wolf has received countless adaptions; one of its earliest and best known is the 1946 Walt Disney animation inspired by a visit by Prokofiev to the Disney studio. Since then, Peter and the Wolf has been recited by many illustrious orators including but not limited to Alec Guinness, Sean Connery, David Bowie, Sharon Stone, and David Attenborough. Renowned Vancouver actor and Director Christopher Gaze will join these ranks at the November performance. A recipient of the Mayor’s Arts Award for Theatre and the Order of British Columbia, Gaze is a gifted speaker who works extensively as a character actor in theatre, film and radio. A highlight of Gaze’s resume is his narration of the Emmy Award-winning animation series Madeline.

Along with Peter and the Wolf, concertgoers will enjoy Russian masterworks including Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain, commonly recognized from Disney’s Fantasia, and Rachmaninoff’s resplendent ode to Edgar Allan Poe, The Bells, welcoming the magnificent voices of the Vancouver Bach Choir on stage.

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