About 2,500 schoolchildren filed into the Lightsey Auditorium on the campus of Charleston Southern University Thursday morning to attend a special classical music concert tailored just for them.
The Charleston Symphony Orchestra presented two performances of a dynamic program in order to accommodate the high demand. This was its once-per-year educational outreach concert for students of the tri-county area.
The back parking lot turned yellow with buses, middle- and high-schoolers followed their chaperones into the auditorium, then guest conductor Steven Jarvi took the stage.
Jarvi explained that the program was devoted to “heroes, myths and magic,” then hit the ignition.
The orchestra played Richard Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries,” a familiar tune that generated enthusiastic cheers.
Then came the theme from “Superman” by John Williams, followed by a little Ravel, Gluck, Strauss and Rossini. They also performed Berlioz’ “Dream of a Witches’ Sabbath” from his Symphonie Fantastique. The concert ended with the ever-popular Suite from “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”
Throughout, Jarvi kept the kids engaged with his short introductions. At one point he had the audience mimic a thunderstorm (like Rossini does at the beginning of the William Tell Overture).
Double bass player Thomas Bresnick said this program was no walk in the park. “It’s good music. It’s a really hard program,” he said.
Concertmaster Yuriy Bekker said it’s exciting for musicians to play for young people.
“For some of these kids, it’s the first time they hear a live symphony orchestra,” he said. “It’s exciting for us to know we can make such a difference in our community.”