Chinese Kids Learn Symphony from Peter and the Wolf

Xu Fei China Plus Published: 2017-07-13 11:19:58
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Fan Tao conducts Peter and the Wolf concert on Friday evening, July 7, 2017 at the Beijing Concert Hall. [Photo provided to China Plus]

Fan Tao conducts Peter and the Wolf concert on Friday evening, July 7, 2017 at the Beijing Concert Hall. [Photo provided to China Plus]

Peter and the Wolf, a symphonic fairy tale for children, recently came to Beijing.

The Beijing Concert Hall arranged a concert that culminated with a performance of the famous piece by the renowned Russian musician S. Prokofiev.

The Peter and the Wolf concert also serves as the opener for a series of concerts titled "2017 Gateway to Music". The series will run throughout the summer holidays.

Xu Fei has the story.

Fan Tao is the conductor of the Peter and the Wolf concert. Though there are other melodies in the program list, Fan thinks Peter and the Wolf is the centerpiece of the concert.

"Peter and the Wolf is an indispensable piece when introducing classical music to children. Its composer adopts different instruments to represent various animal characters. So, children get to know the tones of certain types of musical instruments in the symphony hall through an interesting story. Music can describe the different characters."

The concert is not only for the ears but is also a feast for the eyes.

A big LED screen was installed on the stage, simultaneously interpreting the music via animation.

Hence, young audiences can clearly feel what happens and better understand the plot while still listening to the music.

A symphony concert named after fairy tale Peter and the Wolf is underway on Friday evening, July 7, 2017 at the Beijing Concert Hall.[Photo provided to China Plus]

A symphony concert named after fairy tale Peter and the Wolf is underway on Friday evening, July 7, 2017 at the Beijing Concert Hall.[Photo provided to China Plus]

Chen Xun is the principal flute in the orchestra. His flute represents the bird.

"So the bird, as we know, is very lively. She is Peter's friend. And in the story, she helps peter to catch the wolf. So I have to play at the beginning…I have to play the bird…just like singing in the tree. So it is very happy. The music sounds like "blubby blablablabla…very fast."

Peter, a young pioneer, lives at his grandfather's home in a forest clearing. One day, a big, grey wolf approaches Peter's home. The cat quickly climbs into a tree, but the duck that has jumped out of the pond, is swallowed by the wolf.

Peter, however, fetches a rope and climbs the tree. He asks the bird to fly around the wolf's head to distract it, while he lowers a noose and catches the wolf by its tail. The wolf struggles to get free, but Peter ties the rope to the tree and the noose gets tighter and tighter.

There are many other animal characters represented by various types of music, as Chen Xun explains:

"So in this symphony, children can listen to different instruments representing different characters. Oboe is a duck. Clarinet is a cat. Bassoon is representing the grandfather. The horns, the horn section, are representing the wolf. So when the children listen to this music, they can know what instrument sounds like and they can get into the story. And when they go home to listen to other symphonies, maybe they can know what instrument (it is). Maybe they say 'Oh I have listened to this instrument in Peter and the Wolf."

The Beijing Concert Hall was recently crowded with Chinese parents and children waiting to appreciate this symphonic fairy tale.

Prokofiev composed this symphony in 1936. It came to China in 2009 thanks to the late Italian conductor Claudio Abbado.

Talking about his anticipation for the concert, Fan Tao reckons it would open a gateway to classic music for kids.

"For some children, perhaps it is their first time coming to a concert hall. We want to give them a good memory, enabling them to have a deeper understanding of classical music. Perhaps children who come for the first time will begin to love classical music after watching our performances."

Parents and kids at the Peter and the Wolf concert on Friday evening, July 7, 2017 at the Beijing Concert Hall. [Photo provided to China Plus]

Parents and kids at the Peter and the Wolf concert on Friday evening, July 7, 2017 at the Beijing Concert Hall. [Photo provided to China Plus]

Fan Tao also disclosed that since the target audience members are mainly children, each piece of music they've chosen for this concert is not too long, but has a distinctive tone, beat and rhythm.

According to the conductor, there will be more than 40 concerts taking place at the concert hall in July and August, with one especially for children aged under 5.

Their aim is simple, to arouse young Chinese audiences' passion for classical music.



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