Manchester Symphony Orchestra concert Feb. 7 is a family affair

By Karen Greer
For the Journal Inquirer
Published: Thursday, February 4, 2010 2:09 PM EST

MANCHESTER — The Manchester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale continues the celebration of its 50th season with a special concert at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 7, at Manchester High School. Bring the Family is an exciting event for the young artists on the program, and also for young listeners.

The concert, Bring the Family, will be performed at Bailey Auditorium at Manchester High School, 134 E. Middle Turnpike. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students over 18, and free for those under 18.

Lewis J. Buckley conducts the orchestra in a concert that features a young soloist, a young composer, and an entertaining introduction to the orchestra from the inimitable perspective of children’s book author Lemony Snicket. (Inimitable is a word that means “not able to be imitated”; here it means that listening to an orchestra concert is far more delightful than reading about one.)

“The Composer is Dead,” with music by Nathaniel Stookey, is full of the wry humor and clever wordplay that has made Lemony Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events” books so popular. In the tradition of well-loved favorites such as Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf,” the various orchestral instruments are introduced as they become characters in the story.

Here, the intrepid Investigator tries to solve a murder mystery by interrogating each of the orchestra sections in turn. Kids of all ages who enjoy an alternative to a certain plucky lad and his charming animal friends may appreciate this new (and somewhat edgier) look at the orchestra.

Comparing this work to the Prokofiev and Britten’s “Young People’s Guide to the Orchestra,” Buckley says, “It’s an absolute joy! I think it is going to at the very least take its place alongside these two venerable staples in the literature, if not supplant them to some degree, at least for awhile.”

The orchestra didn’t have to look far for a narrator. Buckley was happy to give the job to the Chorale’s music director, Kevin Mack. “He’s got tremendous energy, considerable acting talents, a great voice, and he’s a musician, which helps tremendously with the timing.”

Andrew Tang, a 17-year-old violist from Simsbury, is the concert’s guest young artist, performing Bartók’s “Concerto for Viola.” He was the winner of the 2009 Musical Club of Hartford competition and a finalist in the Hartford Symphony Orchestra 2009 Concerto Competition.

Although the viola is heard less frequently as a solo instrument than the violin or the cello, Buckley says, “The fact is, the viola is every bit as expressive as either of the other two instruments, and Andrew Tang brings out every bit of the viola’s beauty.”

As MSOC celebrates its 50th season, the concert opens with a new work aptly entitled “Celebration,” written by 17-year-old Byron Perpetua. This piece is doubly appropriate for MSOC’s Bring the Family concert, because this young composer is the son of Victor Perpetua, the orchestra’s principal horn, and Byron has played in MSOC’s trumpet section.

For further information, phone 860-645-1151, e-mail MusicSix [at], or visit the MSOC Web site: