"Musical 'Tails' Remixed"
Symphony of Southeast Texas Newsletter
We are excited to begin 2015 with a story time set to music for the next concert in our Classics Series. “Musical ‘Tails’ Remixed” features a traditional presentation of Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 and is juxtaposed with a unique, visually transcended performance of Sergei Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf.”
This season, we have challenged ourselves to include a “twist” in each of the Classics Series concerts where we add something new or unique. For “Musical ‘Tails’ Remixed” that twist is the innovative performance of “Peter and the Wolf.”
“Boys like Peter are not afraid of wolves!” Prokofiev’s timeless musical tale of boy vs. wolf comes roaring to life with the SOST and a vaudeville-inspired performance by actor Michael Boudewyns from theater ensemble Really Inventive Stuff. The orchestra portrays each character with different instruments -- flutes flutter like a bird, clarinets stalk like a cat, and horns glare like a big hungry wolf.
Boudewyns has been presenting playful storytelling with orchestras across the country since 2004. Combining the traditions of vaudeville and classic theatre with a generous sprinkling of childlike enthusiasm, he creates skillful and unique performances for all ages, while keeping the music in the spotlight. Hailed by the Philadelphia Inquirer as “immensely like-able” and “using simplicity as a form of genius,” this performance is guaranteed to engage and inspire imaginations of all ages.
We bring the traditional performance of a classic back in with Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 4. Brahms’ final essay in the symphonic form, this piece is a culmination of beauty, lyricism and form. “All pieces to me tell a certain story,” said Maestro Chelsea Tipton, II. “You can really hear that story from Brahms in this piece.”
The concert begins with the Russian classic overture, “Overture to Russlan and Ludmilla,” by Mikhail Glinka with its exclamatory, vigorous themes and popping bass lines. Maestro Tipton’s incredible selection of music will make this concert most memorable.
To purchase tickets or get more information, go to www.sost.org or call (409) 892-2257.
Mr. Boudewyns’ appearance made possible in part by Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas.
Meet Michael Boudewyns
Michael Boudewyns is the performer and producer of “Peter and the Wolf” and the co-creator of the theatre ensemble Really Inventive Stuff. We wanted everyone to get to know him a little better before we experience his performance at our Jan. 24 concert.
What kind of theatre or musical performances did you attend as a child?
I have many memories of theatre and music: I grew up in Des Moines, Iowa. When I was very young, during the summer, my family would go to the state capitol to listen to outdoor concerts of John Philip Sousa marches. In kindergarten, I recall Mrs. Thompson taking our class to see the sixth grade students perform “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” I loved it. I was inspired by the fun, the enthusiasm and the music.
In the early 70’s, in elementary school, I sang in choir and played trumpet in band. My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. MacIntyre, did theatre games, readers theatre, puppet shows and spontaneous in-class performances of books. Mrs. McIntyre was a great teacher. I still fondly think about her classes.
What inspired or lead you to create Really Inventive Stuff?
In 2004, Really Inventive Stuff was co-created with my wife, Sara Valentine. We’re both classically trained actors (Shakespeare, Chekhov, Shaw, Wilder) and have chosen to apply our passion for classic stories to great music for families. We approach each orchestra project as a piece of theatre. Sara and I collaborate on the overall conception, while Sara designs all the props and then she directs the staging as if it were a play.
In 2005, we were invited to create a performance of “Peter and the Wolf” for an orchestra in New Jersey. We drew upon storytelling that inspired us, and discovered that our theatrical style was a great fit with orchestras. After our success with “Peter and the Wolf” we began partnering with more orchestras and exploring other compositions that we could tell with a theatrical twist such as “The Story of Babar,” “Tubby the Tuba,” “The Toy Symphony,” the “Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra,” “Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony,” and Dr. Seuss’s “Green Eggs and Ham.”
In 2007, our performance with the Philadelphia Orchestra was reviewed as “simplicity as a form of genius.” We’re honored by such a compliment. We believe simplicity is a key to great storytelling. It asks the performer and the audience to take the kernel of an idea, and from the collective imagination, create the world of the story.
What made you want to add a visual and theatre component to these classic orchestra performances?
We feel that it’s the perfect way to highlight the composer’s music intention. Great compositions inherently contains drama and conflict and every great composition for young audiences is built around a story so using a touch of playfulness and theatricality can be a useful bridge for kids to embrace orchestral music.
I hope my performance of “Peter and the Wolf” allows kids to discover a timeless musical story they’ll love for a lifetime, while adults can rediscover a composition they thought they knew, and families all leave with a new shared memory.
What do you hope the audience gains from a visually translated performance vs. strictly instrumental performance?
Really Inventive Stuff endeavors to create performances that are, first and foremost, playful. We love storytelling that is surprising and delightful. Our goal is to inspire and engage the audience’s imagination while being in the presence of fantastic orchestral music. In the end we want audiences to have had such a fantastic and memorable time with the orchestra that it may inspire kids to learn to play an instrument or take music classes, while making attending live music a regular part of their daily lives; not just for special occasions.
How do you work with or rehearse with the orchestra to prepare for a performance?
Most of my preparation and rehearsal is accomplished before I meet an orchestra. I spend hours studying the score, reviewing the music, rehearsing my blocking and reciting my lines — orchestras typically only hav one rehearsal and most of the time, as it should, is dedicated to the musicians and the conductor — so I arrive prepared, like a jazz musician without preconceptions for tempos and dynamics, to partner with the conductor. Every orchestra has a unique sound, and each conductor unveils a new facet of “Peter and the Wolf” and the other compositions in our repertoire.
I love how each orchestra I perform with reflects its city and community; whether it’s Saint Louis, Philadelphia, or Singapore, each town claims a group of musicians as their “hometown team.” It’s a thrill that for the brief time I’m guest artist, I get to be part of the place I’m visiting. Music is a necessary and much needed part of a community. Music is for everyone; it’s a vital part of humanity. I’m honored to be able to use my talents as actor and storyteller to help introduce classic compositions and musical stories to young audiences.