Symphony spellbinds Creekside Elementary

Published 8:20 pm Monday, June 11, 2012

Matthew A. Ward/Suffolk News-Herald Creekside Elementary students sat spellbound Wednesday when four members of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra performed musical versions of two of their favorite tales, “Peter and the Wolf” and “The Three Little Pigs.”

Students at Creekside Elementary School enjoyed a rare experience Wednesday when a four-person classical ensemble from the Virginia Symphony Orchestra brought two popular children’s stories to life with double bass, bassoon, flute and bass trombone.

The ensemble provided a rich voice for 20th century Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf,” and for “The Three Little Pigs.”

“This is something many of them wouldn’t experience anywhere else,” said Leila Baccouche-Nadeau, president of Creekside Parent Teacher Association, which organized the event.

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“We sponsored them to come, and this is the first time they have been here.”

The school auditorium was an intimate setting for two separate performances for kindergarten to second grade and for third to fifth grade.

The children sat on the floor directly before the musicians. Children in the back were on tiered seating.

Although told only to applaud when directed, a spirited round of clapping erupted when the ensemble broke into “Freak Out!” during “The Three Little Pigs.”

Symphony bass trombonist Rodney Martell said his particular ensemble performs hundreds of concerts around Hampton Roads schools as part of a community engagement program.

“We are just one of a number of ensembles that the symphony sends out to the schools,” he said.

Before the performance commenced, Martell told the audience that “Peter and the Wolf” “has become a real favorite, because it tells a story.”

He asked the children to listen carefully for the different moods created with the instruments representing different characters.

“The first character we will meet is Peter, and that will be played by the flute,” he said.

Symphony Director of Education and Community Engagement Marsha Staples said, “We have people who come from all over Hampton Roads to our concerts, but we definitely want to get them while they’re young.”

Baccouche-Nadeau said the visit came about after her daughter and other Creekside fifth-graders enjoyed a field trip to a symphony Young People’s Concert.

“Some of the parents from the field trip asked if there was any way we could bring them to the school so all the students could benefit, not just the fifth-graders,” she said. “We coordinated and brought them here.”

With the school district running a tight budget, field trips have been cut back, “so more and more of the parents come to the PTA” with requests, Baccouche-Nadeau added.