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A carnival atmosphere

Musical Suite of 14 movements depicts various animals. Children had a chance to try those sounds out.

February 10, 2010|By Melonie Magruder

In its season’s first family concert presentation — French composer Camille Saint-Saëns’ celebrated “Carnival of the Animals” at the Alex Theatre in Glendale — the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra proved that not only can music soothe the savage beast, it can engage a youngster’s enthusiasm so completely, you wonder why public schools leave it off the curriculum menu in the first place.

Part of the orchestra’s regular season, three family concerts are presented each year in an effort, spokeswoman Nicolette Atkins said, to “make music as accessible as possible to children.” That would be the next generation of season-ticket holders.

“Our director, Jeffrey Kahane, is dedicated to presenting music in a way it can be explained,” Atkins said. “But we don’t pander to them. We treat music and kids’ ability to hear music seriously.”

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While the adults might be serious, the children present were having nothing but fun. In the Alex’s sunlit courtyard before the concert Sunday, children were allowed to handle and play instruments the chamber orchestra uses. This instrumental petting zoo yielded some young faces scowling in concentration as they tried to keep the same beat on the snare drum as the cow-licked young musician wielding it (students from the new Central Los Angeles High School No. 9’s advanced orchestra classes volunteered the brief tutorials).

Six-year-old Anneliese Lindsay from Sierra Madre, in her pink tulle finest, was almost as tall as the slide trombone she was trying mightily to get some sound out of.

“It’s not too hard, the trombone,” she said. “Besides, I already play the violin.”

Kimberly Vasquez patiently fixed one boy’s fingers on the stops of her flute and showed him how to position his lips, saying, “Now blow!”

It was a worthy effort.

“Maybe two of the kids got a sound out,” Vasquez said. “But they all love feeling the instrument.”

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