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A CurtainUp BerkshiresBerkshire Feature
Color the Maestro!
The Porches Inn

Audiences for theater, classical music and dance aren't born, but built. With television, films, the internet and Game Boy competing for the attention of the youngsters we all hope will become regular theater and concert goers, the professionals in the theater and music community are constantly looking for new ways to make the arts accessible, appealing and affordable. Broadway has its student rush tickets and Kids Night On Broadway (a period when kids get a free ticket when accompanied by a paying adult). In the Berkshires, where the visual and performing arts are as integral to the beautiful landscape as the rich green of the rolling hills, even more youth-friendly deals abound (see our Tanglewood Tips and other Money Saving Tips on our Berkshire news page).

Last Saturday, I checked out the Tanglewood Music Festival's Summer 2001 Youth Concert. Since I was accompanied by Jack Bloom Sommer, aged 8, I was allowed into Ozawa Hall's front and center section reserved for the "target audience." Jack, a veteran musical theater goer (You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown, Peter Pan, The Music Man, Grease) and several New York City youth concerts, enjoyed the casual atmosphere at this decidedly participatory event.

The concert was preceded by a workshop in a tent near the concert hall during which the Fellows of the Music Center initiated the children into some of the intricacies of composing and conducting. Even those who came too late for the workshop had a chance to get to know the musicians who, before taking their places for the performance, walked up and down the aisles playing their instruments and stopping to talk to the more chat-inclined youngsters.

While casual was the watchword for this entire enterprise (each piece was interspersed with interchanges with conductor Ludovic Marlot, round singing by the audience and guest appearance by some of the workshop participants ranging from 6 to 13), the program itself offered a challenging mix of selections. Besides Beethoven, and Bach, there were pieces by Charles Ives, Igor Stravinsky and, in keeping with the Festival's overall celebration of Arnold Schoenberg, "Pierre Lunaire" (the sick moon). I was a bit concerned how Jack would react to the famously "difficult" Schoenberg. But, while he may not be singing all the songs as he did after Charlie Brown and The Music Man soprano Lucy Shelton, and the big balloon moon held his attention.

Jack and the rest of the children left with a Certificate of Participation, a large "Color the Maestro" cartoon picture -- and a better understanding of what the Maestro does.

This musical learn-and-enjoy event could easily be adapted by theaters wanting to introduce children to playwriting, acting and directing. Like all initiatives to make the performing arts part of children's present and future lives, one Tanglewood Youth Concert is better than one, but at least one a month would go further to insure that the Shed and Ozawa Hall will be as full twenty years from now as they are today.

Check CurtainUp's Tanglewood Tips for details about Tanglewood On Parade, another especially youth-friendly annual event.

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©Copyright 2001, Elyse Sommer, CurtainUp.
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