Photo © Ahron R. Foster, used by permission
- A class of about a half hour in what to listen for, using the first and last movements of Mr. Mozart's String Quartet No. 21 (K. 575, for those keeping track), quite capably demonstrated by the GPR Festival String Quartet in casual attire
- A formal performance of the excerpts discussed, performed in concert attire by the same ensemble
The biggest lesson of the day was this: listen for the themes and what happens to them. All the great music commentators, from Anna Russell to Andy Griffith, say the same thing!
I would like to have seen more people in the audience, but it wasn't a bad house. The crowd was roughly 50% kids, ranging in age from toddlers to about 12 or 13, with the greatest numbers (in my unscientific estimation) at about age 10. Very near me were a boy who looked to be about 6, who caught my attention by discussing Gershwin's sad end, and a toddler of maybe 18 months whose mother said he adores opera. I rather think all the underage audience are fortunate kids (and they'd have to be very fortunate indeed, considering the ticket prices for this event) who were blessed with music interest and lessons from a young age. During the lecture, most of the kids--and parents--paid close attention to the lesson, and at one point when the quartet played the entire exposition of the movement we were discussing, they enjoyed the challenge of making appropriate gestures for themes A (or Peter Griffin) and B (or Lois Griffin), as well as transitionary material between the themes. During the "concert" portion, I enjoyed seeing kids make the same gestures, and enjoyed even more seeing parents smile with pride when that happened.
I do hope Mr. Roven has the opportunity to present these concerts/lectures again. He has an entire series envisioned. My suggestions? Very few. Have a structured play time after lunch but before the concert, so the kids can burn up some energy. Have a planned period when the kids can approach the performers directly with questions. Focus only on the one movement of a multi-movement work. Do programs that include singers (no surprise coming from me). And as he does more and more of these, I know Mr. Roven will relax more in his presentation skills. But these are tiny things. [The very high ticket price and service at the venue were things Mr. Roven had little control over.]
I call this program a success. I would happily support this effort, and I hope the opportunity is there for more of these concerts.