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Orchestra offers program of family classics

Exciting show includes ‘Peter and the Wolf’

The Columbia Gorge Sinfonietta kicks off its 2013-14 season with a program of classics for kids and adults.

The shows are Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. and Oct. 20 at 3:30 p.m. at the Wy’east Middle School performing arts center.

There is a suggested donation of $10.

The concerts include one of the most beloved introductions to classical music ever written, “Peter and the Wolf,” plus the evocative “Pictures at an Exhibition” and “Procession of the Nobles.”

Music director Mark Steighner says that all three works on the program are “tuneful, exciting and familiar. Plus, they are all showcases for the orchestra’s increasing musicianship. Our local orchestra — which has been playing together 35 years! — continues to evolve and expand.”

Steighner says that audiences continue to grow. “Every concert, we have people who are surprised that the orchestra exists! The Sinfonietta is one of the longest-lived of all our local arts organizations and is an incredible resource in the community.”

While it might be known as a timeless classic, “Peter and the Wolf” was actually a product of the 1930s, written after Russian composer Serge Prokofiev returned to his homeland. Written in only four days, the piece was intended to “cultivate musical taste in children.”

Although the premiere was poorly attended and unsuccessful, “Peter and the Wolf” has been long recognized as a masterpiece. The narrator for the performance will be Gregory Smith, director of the Center for the Arts.

Another familiar Russian masterpiece, “Pictures at an Exhibition,” was composed in 1870 after Modest Mussorgsky attended a retrospective of paintings by artist Viktor Hartmann. Originally written for two pianos, there have been several versions for orchestra based on the piano piece.

From the macabre “Hut of the Baba Yaga” to the triumphant “Great Gate of Kiev,” the suite offers one evocative musical vignette after another.

While the orchestra’s upcoming concerts are the first for the season, they launch a full year of performances by various ensembles in the Columbia Gorge Orchestra Association, which include the Voci community choir, the Interludes vocal ensemble, and the Gorge Strings.

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