SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Listeners of all ages are invited to the South Orange Symphony’s free family variety concert on Sunday, Feb. 10, at 3 p.m. at South Orange Middle School, 70 N. Ridgewood Road in South Orange. The eclectic program, conducted by Susan Haig, opens with Prokofiev’s “March” from “The Love for Three Oranges,” and “Wedding” from the “Lieutenant Kije” suite; and “Dance of the Tumblers” from Rimsky-Korsakov’s “The Snow Maiden.”
The 55-member orchestra will be joined by tap dancer Karen Callaway Williams, the SOMS chorus conducted by Jake Ezzo and the 40-member SOMS string orchestra conducted by Bill Cook. During intermission, young audience members can try out the instruments in the lobby, where musicians will be on hand to demonstrate and provide impromptu lessons.
Listeners young and old will recognize the country dance and storm from Beethoven’s “Pastorale” Symphony No. 6 — featured in Walt Disney’s “Fantasia” — as well as the fervent “Children’s Prayer and Dream Pantomime” from Humperdinck’s “Hansel and Gretel.”
The SOMS students and South Orange Symphony string players will together form a giant 80-member string orchestra to perform the “Prelude and Dance” from Gustav Holst’s “Brook Green Suite.” The evocative work was composed for the chamber orchestra at St. Paul’s Girls’ School in London, where Holst was a music teacher.
Leroy Anderson’s “The Syncopated Clock” — with Williams performing a tap dance interpretation — uses temple blocks to capture the precision of a ticking clock. It was recorded in late 1950 and soon reached No. 12 on the pop charts.
Just before intermission, children will be invited to ring sleigh bells in time with the orchestra’s performance of Prokofiev’s lively “Troika,” the three-horse sleigh ride, from “Lieutenant Kije.”
The South Orange Symphony receives funding, in part, from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts and administered by the Essex County Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs, as well as matching gift funds from several New Jersey corporations. The balance of funding comes from individual donations.
Tap dancer Williams, a member of the New Jersey Tap Dance Ensemble, has performed with the Duke Ellington Orchestra and other jazz ensembles, and made her Broadway debut in the musical “Riverdance.” She performs, teaches and gives dance workshops throughout the Metropolitan area.
Conductor Haig has directed orchestras and opera companies in North America, including the Toronto, Windsor, Pittsburgh and South Dakota symphony orchestras; the Florida Orchestra and Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra; and the Canadian Opera, Minnesota Opera, Opera Victoria and Opera Lyra-Ottawa. She is founder and creative director of CivicStory.org.
The South Orange Symphony Orchestra celebrates its 70th season of free orchestral concerts for the musical enjoyment and education of citizens of South Orange and vicinity. The orchestra has been in residence at the South Orange Middle School since the 1970s.