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Thursday September 18th 2014

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All-Ages Symphonic Saturday

By Jessica Forbes

Music fans of all ages are welcome at the Saenger Theatre on Saturday, Jan. 11, to join the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra (PSO) for “Music for Families” in the afternoon and the popular “Beethoven and Blue Jeans” performance that evening. For the past several years, PSO has hosted these two events on the same day to appeal to a wide range of the public, and hopefully draw new attendees to its other programs throughout the year.

Kicking off a busy day, PSO’s “Music for Families” features the Instrument Petting Zoo, in which around 15 PSO musicians will be stationed, ready to introduce children to a range of orchestral instruments. “These players are the best in the region on their respective instruments and are really able to work with the children to get them to produce sound,” said Bret Barrow, Executive Director of the PSO.

“Our hope is to inspire the next generation of musicians by showing them that making music is something that they can have fun doing,” Barrow stated of the event activities, which also include art stations and a music and science station that Pensacola MESS (Math, Engineering, Science & Stuff) Hall coordinates. “We want to show them that this is something they can do, rather than ‘don’t touch!’”

Other community groups, including Historic Pensacola Village, Santa Rosa Strings, the Escambia County Supervisor of Elections staff, and arts educators from the Santa Rosa and Escambia County school districts also assist to pull the event off. “The PSO Guild and Kohl’s provide volunteers that help us with hands-on activities and goodies for the children. We will even have the Cat from Cat Country 98.7FM join us this year,” Barrow said.

The activities are followed by a live performance by the PSO at 2 p.m. featuring selections from Grammy, Pulitzer Prize and Academy Award-winning composer John Corigliano’s “Gazebo Dances.” Barrow stated that the piece will remind the audience of an event close to home: “It takes us to a town square where a concert band is giving a concert on a summer evening, not unlike our own ‘Evenings in Old Seville.’”

Guest trumpet soloist Ryan Anthony will also perform two pieces for the family program before gearing up with the rest of the symphony for its “Beethoven and Blue Jeans” performance that evening.

A relaxed wardrobe — blue jeans are encouraged attire for audience members and musicians alike — is just one popular aspect of the evening’s show, which focuses on much more than the music of Beethoven, Barrow assures.

“Our Music Director, Peter Rubardt, likes to program about six pieces for this concert. His selections run the gamut from familiar classics to edgy and contemporary,” according to Barrow. “It is just a fun evening that really has something for just about everyone to identify with. The juxtaposition of various styles of music really takes you on a roller coaster ride.”

Anthony, the principal trumpet in the Dallas Symphony, has performed twice with PSO for its New Year’s Eve Pops concerts, and Barrow explained, “This time, on a Masterworks concert, he’s going to get to play two big concertos — pieces for solo instrument and orchestra.” The concertos will spotlight Anthony on the piccolo trumpet in a piece from the Baroque Era by Italian composer Tomaso Albinoni and another by Armenian composer Alexander Arutiunian, which Barrow calls “a flashy modern showcase,” written in 1950.

Barrow said that “Beethoven and Blue Jeans” is an audience favorite for its eclectic range of music in addition to a more relaxed dress code, and commonly sells out early in the season. According to Barrow, the PSO musicians and staff look forward to the “Music for Families” and “Beethoven and Blue Jeans” Saturday for those reasons and more.

“It is one of my favorite Saturdays of the season. We’ll see toddlers and adults enjoying the same pieces together. It really typifies our passion for music as a lifelong pursuit,” Barrow said. “We want everyone, all ages and backgrounds, to get to experience the world’s greatest music.”

PSO’S “MUSIC FOR FAMILIES”
WHEN: 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11
WHERE: Saenger Theatre, 118 S. Palafox
COST: $5 per person
DETAILS: pensacolasymphony.com or 435-2533

PSO’S “BEETHOVEN AND BLUE JEANS”
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11
WHERE: Saenger Theatre, 118 S. Palafox
COST: $22-$84
DETAILS: pensacolasymphony.com or 435-2533