I had a conversation recently with the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa's CEO Ken Busby about, among other things, the importance of exposing children to the arts. I get really excited during conversations like this because it's something I'm passionate about.
My son sort of gets the best of both worlds -- the arts and sports -- because his father is as fanatical about sports as I am about the arts. And I think we both initially had the same fear -- that one parent would try to shove his or her passion down our kid's throat. John thought I'd try to force our son into ballet lessons, and I thought he'd try to make him play football.
We realized, though, that we really want the same thing for our kids: For them to be exposed to everything life has to offer and then choose for themselves which interests they pursue. And, so far, our son enjoys theatre and music (at 2 years old; it's so weird yet awesome) as much as he does baseball (he and his daddy watch the Texas Rangers together and play catch during the games).
Parents in Tulsa are lucky because there are a couple of different organizations (AHCT being one of them) that offer children opportunities to be exposed to the arts. One such organization is the Tulsa Children's Museum, which hosts concerts, plays and interactive exhibits that are both fun and relevant to children.
TCM's latest offering comes via a partnership with Tulsa Symphony Orchestra. The two companies have teamed up to present, on Sunday, Oct. 24, at 3pm in the Tulsa Performing Arts Center's Chapman Music Hall, 110 E. 2nd St., "The Composer is Dead," Lemony Snicket's narrated classical symphony.
Through "The Composer is Dead," Tulsa Children's Museum hopes to introduce families to the orchestra. In the tale, which is narrated by actor and author Dan McGeehan, instruments are being questioned about the suspicious death of the work's composer. It's a light-hearted musical interrogation, and each instrument performs its alibi as the inspector attempts to uncover which instrument is responsible for the crime. The concert also features an interactive instrument "petting zoo" and a musician meet-and-greet after the show.
"When we planned this season's concert series, the museum was looking for a performance that could invigorate and ignite a sense of excitement and passion for classical music in children and adults alike," said Tobey Ballenger, TCM concert chair. "'The Composer is Dead' introduces the art of classical music in a funny and intriguing yet educational way, while also highlighting the talent of Tulsa musicians."
"The Composer is Dead" is Tulsa Children's Museum's second collaboration with Tulsa Symphony Orchestra and the first concert in the museum's 2010-2011 Family Concert Series. The Family Concert Series, which began in 2007, presents child-friendly, high-quality concerts from nationally recognized children's performers. Each concert highlights a different musical genre and engages families through humor and audience participation. TCM donates 25 percent of concert tickets to low-income families.
TCM calls itself a "museum without walls" and aims to inspire children with educational traveling exhibits, outreach programs and a concert series at various locations in the city. The museum seeks to connect families and build a strong community through exploration, exhibits, programming and play. The museum has served more than 10,000 families in the Tulsa area since 2007.
Tickets to "The Composer is Dead" are $10, and lap-sitters (children 3 and under) are free.
Tickets and other information are available at tulsapac.com
More Music for the Soul
The night before its collaboration with Tulsa Children's Museum, on Saturday, Oct. 23, Tulsa Symphony Orchestra will present the second concert in its 2010-11 season, titled "Masterpieces of Change," in the Tulsa PAC's Chapman Music Hall, at 7:30pm.
Conducted by Ron Spigelman, the concert features excerpts from Mozart's Symphony No. 41 in C major, K.551 "Jupiter" -- Allegro vivace, Andante cantabile, Menuetto and Trio: Allegretto and Molto allegro -- and Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique -- Visions and Passions, A Ball Scene in the Country, March to the Scaffold and The Witches Sabbath and Round Dance.
According to Susan Halpern's program notes for the concert, Mozart wrote his "Jupiter Symphony" in 1788, while "he was living a precarious life in Vienna, feeling the strain of debt and concerned about his future."
Regardless, he wrote this "optimistic and triumphant" symphony, though why or for whom remain unknown. It's a massive work, lengthy and expressive.
"The dramatic intensity and the wit and the pathos of the minor key sections, as well as Mozart's interest in thematic development, make this late work significantly different than his early attempts at the symphony," Halpern writes.
"The principal theme is the little melody of just four notes that the first violins play at the beginning of the movement; this little figure, almost a cliché, is found in a dozen of Mozart's other compositions and in the works of many other composers," Halpern writes. "Its importance is not in what it is, but in the monument Mozart builds of it. By the coda, Mozart has taken what grows out of it, all the themes of the movement, and combined them contrapuntally, allowing the symphony to end in a triumphant tour-de-force."
Hector Berlioz was a little-known 26-yuear-old French composer in 1830 when he wrote "Symphonie Fantastique," a work that, according to Halpern, "revealed him as a most original musical thinker, a man composing with great new powers of expression."
"The work is remarkable for its combination of musical imagery and emotional representation," Halpern writes. "It became a model for Liszt, Wagner, and Strauss, yet when it was written, it drew a wide range of response, much of it negative. Although Berlioz took many musical conventions well beyond their limits, he called his work a symphony.
"The melody represents his beloved, Harriet Smithson, an ideé fixe, a persistent obsession. The work reflects Berlioz's fascination with the supernatural and the grotesque, with heroic longing and frenzied romance. Another part of the innovative style of the work is the way Berlioz emphasizes new instrument possibilities, new tone colors and effects as well as sounds that suggest an infinite variety of emotions and ideas."
Tickets to "Masterpieces of Change" range from $10 to $65 and are available at the Tulsa PAC's website.
Also on Stage
American Theatre Company, Oct. 22-24 and 27-30, at the Tulsa PAC's John H. Williams Theatre, presents The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. This Tony Award-winning musical comedy centers on six quirky adolescents competing in a spelling bee run by three equally quirky grown-ups. The kids learn that winning isn't everything and losing doesn't necessarily make you a loser. Tickets are $30 and available at the PAC's website.
Oct. 22-23 and 28-31, the Broken Arrow Community Playhouse, 1800 S. Main St. in Broken Arrow, presents Clue: The Musical, which brings the world's best-known suspects to life and invites the audience to help solve the mystery of who killed Mr. Boddy, in what room and with what weapon.
Comic antics, witty lyrics and a beguiling score carry the investigation from room to room as the audience tries to determine who-done-it. Only one hard-nosed female detective is qualified to unravel the merry mayhem. There are 216 possible solutions.
The show begins at 8pm each night except Oct. 31., when it begins at 2pm, and tickets are $13. They and other information are available at bacptheatre.com.
Oct. 22 and 23, Tulsa Signature Symphony presents "An Evening of George Gershwin and Cole Porter," conducted by Dan Wootton, at the PACE Theater on the Tulsa Community College Southeast Campus, at 81st Street and Highway 169. The concert begins at 8pm and tickets, which are $16.50 for adults, are available, along with additional information, at signaturesymphony.org.
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