Quintets for children

August 3, 2007

Ayorama is an Inuit word, meaning: “So be it, c’est la vie!” The Ayorama wind quintet—flute, oboe, horn, bassoon, clarinet (all members of the National Arts Centre Orchestra)— played to an auditorium full of young children at the Museum of Civilisation, last Wednesday.

Mums and grandmas were already reading stories to their children before the performance began, though one very small child was more interested in the steps up the aisle and the velvety chairs. Would the musicians be able to hold the attention of this audience for a whole hour? I wondered. “Sally, come here!” said an anxious parent, while an excited little girl was saying, “Daddy, look!” (at the lights and music stands on the stage). I was thinking about my own little grandson who for the first time had reached out with a smile to touch my virtual face during our Skype call that day, only to be daunted by the solid glass screen. That was a poignant moment. Wish you were here, Alexander!

The wind players did hold most of the children’s attention, after all. The “narrator” who introduced them, Marjolaine Laroche, who is a double bass player as well as a recent winner of the NAC “Good Ambassador” Award, told the story of a Caribbean spider, How Tiger made Spider build a Web, to the accompaniment of suitably atmospheric music by Stewart Grant. Later came another story, this time in French (which made the anglophone children wriggly because they couldn’t follow it), this one a gripping Italian tale—Giovanni et le vent du nord—again illustrated by Mr Grant’s music. In between these two items the musicians played Mussorgsky’s Ballet of the Chicken in their shells from his Pictures at an Exhibition.

The piece everyone had come to listen to, though, was Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, arranged for this ensemble by the NACO’s 2nd flute player.

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