The Perlman Music Program hosted its annual Family Concert on Sunday, July 13; the Geffenberg tent was filled with families eager to enjoy an afternoon of classical music.
In its ninth year, the Family Concert has become a beloved tradition for members of the Perlman Music Program and families alike. The concert serves as a unique way to inspire young children musically. Musical Director Merry Peckham, along with students and faculty of the Summer Music School, presented a program that was both fun and educational.
The students were introduced by section onstage as the event kicked off with a vivacious interpretation of Mozart’s “A Little Night Music.” Rather than have the musicians sit in a traditional orchestral setup, they stood — even the cellists — and moved energetically around the stage.
Alex Zhou, Lindan Burns, Sterling Elliott and Lena Goodson remained onstage to explain their string instruments to kids in the audience, who learned how to identify parts of the instruments by likening them to parts of their body. They also demonstrated the ranges of each instrument — that the violin, the smallest of the four, has the highest range and the biggest, the double bass, plays the lowest.
Since many of the children in the audience played instruments themselves, Ms. Peckham focused on the importance of listening. “There’s certain music that makes me feel the same way every time I hear it,” she said, cringing, as a cellist and violist played the theme from “Jaws” in the background. Then, she asked the audience to “imagine you’re in California.” Twenty or so students with leis and sunglasses broke into “Surfin’ USA,” showing the versatility of music that string instruments can produce.
“But when hearing music you’ve never heard before,” she continued, “it’s best to sit back, open your mind, listen and feel.”
She asked the musicians and audience to imagine a color as various classical pieces were performed. The first piece made the “S’mores Quartet” violinists Alice Ivy-Pemberton and Ariel Horowitz think of deep purple and dark blue, while cellist Dan Hass envisioned sky blue.
The next piece prompted the colors of orange, lime green and yellow from audience members.
Then it was time for the skit. Every year the musicians and staff have two weeks to pull together a short piece of musical theater. This year it was “Snow White,” a version that paid homage to the Island and was co-written by Ms. Peckham and Emma Weiss, with set design by Kathy Meyer and costumes by Kathleen Lacasse. The Seven Dwarfs were talented musicians living deep in the woods of Mashomack Preserve, surrounded by trees, squirrels, a bear and, of course, deer and ticks. They lost the will to play music together until Snow White -— in a hilarious cameo by Itzhak Perlman — arrived and inspired them. The “Evil South Ferry Queen” believed she was the only one who should be allowed to enjoy music and cast a spell on the “young princess.” Until Toby Perlman, as Prince Charming, arrived to break her slumber.
During the question and answer period, when Ms. Perlman was asked how the young musicians were lucky enough to be there, she emphasized that no one was there by luck but by hard work and dedication. She encouraged young musicians in the audience to continue playing, stressing the importance of practicing.
For these young audience members, the most thrilling part of the afternoon came at the end, with the “Instrument Petting Zoo,” which allowed them to try out tiny violins, violas, cellos and a bass, with help from the student musicians.
Earlier, violist So-Hui Yun wore a flower headdress that read, “Bloom through your music with different colors.” That stage was filled with colors, music, laughter and lots of talent.
The Perlman Music Program will host “Works in Progress” concerts each weekend and will perform a concert in collaboration with East End Arts at Southold High School on Thursday, July 31. For more information, visit perlmanmusicprogram.org.