by Andrea Ledwell
Every Christmas season, the PEI Symphony sets aside the usual seriousness of orchestral repertoire and puts together a concert program that is intended to be fun and entertaining for the young and young at heart.
This year in its Family Holiday concert on December 12, the PEISO will be exploring the land of fairytales through music and dance. The eclectic concert program which includes Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite, some Bach, Leroy Anderson's Sleigh Ride and its annual Christmas sing-song will also feature thirty young dancers from PEI's dance umbrella in a performance of Ravel's Mother Goose Suite.
Maurice Ravel loved children and related well to them. He originally composed The Mother Goose Suite as gift for his friends' children-as a piano suite for four hands. The Suite, which was later orchestrated, includes the stories of Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, Tom Thumb and the Empress of the Pagodas.
Choreographer and dance umbrella director, Peggy Reddin, has spent many months preparing for this performance. "I started listening to the music last August," says Reddin, who has taken excerpts from the Suite to tell condensed versions of each story. It has been a new challenge for Reddin, who has often choreographed excerpts from The Nutcracker Suite to perform with the orchestra. "This music is much different from the Nutcracker. It is impressionistic, so it requires the dancers to take the overall feeling of the story into their bodies."
The stories will be performed with the connecting narrative of Mother Goose who, in folklore, was the keeper of stories as well as the geese. The short vignettes of the fairytales will be like "a conversation" that will encapsulate the story of each.
"This is a wonderful program to feature in the holiday concert," says Reddin who feels that The Mother Goose Suite will definitely appeal to the imagination of audience members. "Fairytales are perfect for Christmas, as the basic theme of each of these stories is to look with the heart and not with the eyes."
The theme of fairyland will be carried over into the orchestral program for the holiday concert, particularly in the familiar Peer Gynt Suite. Audience members are likely to feel that they have left the theatre and entered the deep dark forest, if they haven't with the Ravel, when the orchestra performs familiar pieces from Peer Gynt like "In the Hall of the Mountain King' and "Morning Mood."
The forest won't seem so gloomy once the orchestra breaks into the popular Sleigh Ride by Leroy Anderson-a much-loved piece played often by orchestras during the holiday season.
The December symphony program will finish off with the annual caroling that allows the audience a once-a-year opportunity to perform with a full orchestra. Be sure not to miss this popular seasonal event.
The PEI Symphony Family Holiday performance will be held at Confederation Centre of the Arts on December 12 at 2:30 pm. Tickets are available at the Confederation Centre Box Office.