PGSO hosting children's concert

Children appreciate music differently than elders, mid-adults, or even teens. Little kids have their own special relationship with sound, with movement and with visual comedy.

The Prince George Symphony Orchestra (PGSO) is a garden of sound and movement, so they are cultivating the next generations of music lovers with a set of concerts especially for the smallest of listeners. The second show in this series of KinderConcerts is entitled String Beans.

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"Join us for this narrated story about the life-cycle of string beans featuring the PGSO strings and woodwinds musicians and a fairy ballerina," said PGSO general manager Teresa Saunders.

The story was written by longtime local musician and conductor Barbara Parker, who has a long relationship with the PGSO.

"As you know, we are trying to develop ways to expose Prince George kids to classical music because they are our future audience and musicians, and because exposure to a wide spectrum of musical experiences helps us develop well-rounded, balanced lives," said Parker. "We feel that one of the best ways to connect with this age range is through storytelling. So that is the format for this upcoming concert."

The story is all about string beans and there is a pun built into the content. This show focuses on the players of the orchestra who play stringed instruments (like violin, viola, cello and bass), with some help from that other organic kind of instrument, the woodwind (clarinet, saxophone, oboe, bassoon, flute).

There will also be some actual bean plants involved in the entertainment. Saunders laughed that she had been marvelling at the growth of all the little concert plants happening in the PGSO office leading up to this event.

"It is a cute story about the life cycle of a string bean plant in a special garden," Parker said. Two of the city's most lauded young dancers are depicting the characters. Laura Buchanan is portraying the string bean and Sara McGowan is portraying the ballet fairy. Both are teachers and performers with Judy Russell's Enchainement Dance Centre.

The soundtrack that informs the story will be performed by 11 musicians from the PGSO orchestra's roster of musicians. Visual projections and lighting effects will also have a part in the event, courtesy of Jon Russell from Russell Audio-Visual.

"Even though String Bean is the focus in our garden, several little critters will be visiting as well," said Parker. "Some will be creatures that a person would expect to see in a garden, but there will be some that wouldn't be expected, or maybe even wanted in the garden. Each event and character or visitor in our story will have a piece of associated music performed."

All the kids who attend will also get props to use in the interactive storytelling process, and all will go home with a parting gift to remember the music by. They will also get a chance to meet the musicians and dancers after the show to further deepen their connection to the performance.

"We will be performing a couple of three- to four-minute pieces during the String Bean concert in their entirety because they are so beautiful they just cannot be edited," said Parker. "However, those are pieces that will also involve major dance elements, so the visual aspect will help keep the attention of the kids, and allow them to ingest the important development of the music. Most of the selections are written for large orchestras, and must be re-orchestrated to be played by only 11 musicians. This is another challenge, but I am grateful that our musicians are so collaborative and eager to be flexible in order to make the best final product possible."

The String Bean KinderConcert happens on Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Prince George Playhouse.

Tickets are available online through Central Interior Tickets or at the door while supplies last.

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