February 2024

Santa Cruz Symphony Offers Family Concert

Here’s a concert that will please the entire family, and inspire young audiences toward future musical experiences.

The delightful and humorous musical creation, Carnival of the Animals by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns will take families and young music lovers on a tour through a variety of animal behavior in the form of four short movements. Plenty of imaginative parody of the animal kingdom is showcased in a masterpiece originally written in 1886, but not performed in public until 1922, a year after the composer’s death.

Many believe that the Carnival of the Animals, which highlights stringed instruments, gave inspiration to the John Williams score for the Harry Potter films.

This orchestral work will be the culmination of the Santa Cruz Symphony Family Concert on February 25, 2pm at the Civic Auditorium, in which young performers from will play side by side with adult musicians from the Santa Cruz Symphony. The Symphony collaborates with many other youth arts groups and organizations to put on its Youth and Family Concerts during the month of February. It’s an innovative opportunity for students who are learning to play orchestra instruments to play with larger ensembles.

The Family Concert on Sunday Feb. 25 is the culmination of a week of Youth Concert performances for thousands of local 4th and 5th-graders, all of whom have worked through the dynamic Link Up musical introduction program created by Carnegie Hall.

Our local teachers use the Carnegie curriculum to teach the youngsters about the music that they will hear at our Youth Concerts, a program that reaches 4,000 Santa Cruz and Monterey County school children. Some members of the Santa Cruz County Youth Symphony, Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre, Kuumbwa Jazz Honor Band, El Sistema Strings, and the Cabrillo Youth Chorus participate in the Symphony-supported Youth and Family Concerts.

Saint-Saëns’ lively zoological suite of starts off with the dramatic Royal March of the Lion in which the regal king of the jungle enters our imaginations by way of high trills, glissandos from two pianos, and plenty of orchestral splendor.

In the movements that follow audiences will experience sonic portraits of kangaroos, elephants, wild donkeys, birds, tortoises, and the final movement—the most famous and most performed—devoted to the swan. Two pianos conjure up flowing water and the gliding movements of an elegant swan. And the cello takes center stage here as it follows the gorgeous movements of the swan itself. There will be lots to listen to and animals identify in this carnival of inventive sounds from the imagination of a beloved French composer.

Young listeners should pay attention for some especially magical solo portions, dazzling and vigorous piano work and a few themes that will sound very familiar.

The annual Family Concert is a way for parents and young ones to enjoy a highly accessible symphony concert. Fun and lively, the music is perfectly suited (and specially chosen) to introduce youngsters to the unforgettable magic of live orchestra, and of the individual instrumental sections that make up symphonic performances.

Come enjoy the music, led by Symphony maestro Danny Stewart, and see how the audiences and musicians of the future are inspired.

by Christina Waters

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