By Shelley Koppel
MELBOURNE - For generations of children, Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf" has been their introduction to classical music and its instruments.
Conductor Leonard Bernstein used his seminal Young People's Concerts and the famed 1960 recording of the work to bring the story and music into homes throughout the country. Since that time, it has been a staple of children's musical programming.
The Space Coast Symphony will perform the work as it presents the southeastern premiere of Suzie Templeton's "Peter and the Wolf Live!," an Academy-award-winning, stop-motion animated film.
"Peter and the Wolf" is one of the most famous musical works for children, but Sergei Prokofiev composed it in just four days in 1936. His commission was to create a symphony for children, but this one was not initially well-received. Only with the passage of time did it become one of the most beloved classical works for children.
Prokofiev represented each character in the story with a particular instrument or theme, including the flute for the bird; oboe for the duck; clarinet for the cat; bassoon for the grandfather; French horns for the wolf; woodwinds for the hunters; and strings for Peter. Timpani and bass drums supplied the sound of gunshots.
Aaron Collins, conductor of the orchestra, said that "Peter and the Wolf" is an ideal way to introduce children to classical music.
"'Peter and the Wolf' has it all," he said. "The fairy tale story serves as a backdrop for the music. The piece uses instruments to tell the story of young "Peter" and his animal friends, and there is a moral: you can't be a hero if you don't take risks.
"Suzie Templeton's Oscar-winning interpretation of this tale is a fresh and innovative take on this classic," he added. "She uses stop-frame animation, puppets and digital photography to bring a new, modern look to this classic tale."
Also on the program is "Tubby the Tuba," the humorous story of a tuba seeking its melody, accompanied by an animated film starring Dick van Dyke. The orchestra's principal tuba player, Eric Lee, will portray "Tubby."
Mr. Collins said that this work brings a light-hearted perspective to the program.
"'Tubby the Tuba' tells the tale of a sad and lonely tuba that never gets to play his own melody," he said. "He always has to follow along with the rest of the instruments and just plays 'OOM-PAH.' He wants to be like the other instruments that have more interesting music to play. It is very funny and will delight families."
Mr. Collins noted that the pairing of the two pieces provides a contrast for the audience. While there are sad parts of "Peter and the Wolf," the adventures of "Tubby" and his friends are light-hearted and comical.
The program is intended for children and families, and The Space Coast Symphony has partnered with The Children's Hunger Project to help families in need.
The Children's Hunger Project provides elementary school children on the Space Coast with weekend backpacks of food, so that they will not experience hunger.
Both organizations are asking concert-goers to bring non-perishable food items to both of the performances.
The Space Coast Symphony Orchestra presents "Peter and the Wolf Live!" on Oct. 13 at the Scott Center Auditorium at Holy Trinity Academy, 5625 Holy Trinity Church, Melbourne.
Performances are at noon and 7 p.m. Tickets cost $20 for adults and are free for those 18 and younger.
For more information, visit www.spacecoastsymphony.org or call 1-(855) 252-7276.
While the program is suitable for all ages, younger children may find some scenes in "Peter and the Wolf" scary and intense.
Please bring non-perishable food items to donate to The Children's Hunger Project.
For more information, visit www.thechildrenshungerproject.org.