Column: The Carmel symphony always has been for the kids, too
Commentary by Ward Degler
It’s still all about the kids. David Bowden, artistic director of the Carmel Symphony Orchestra, made it clear last Saturday as the orchestra presented a community concert celebrating the symphony’s 40th anniversary.
“We want you to bring the kids,” he said between musical numbers, baton in hand. “That’s how we build a love of music. The younger the better,” he added.
It was all about the kids some 20 years ago as well when the Zionsville Kiwanis Club sponsored a “Symphony in the Village” and assembled all the musicians and their instruments on a rustic stage in Lions Park.
The public came with picnic baskets, lawn chairs and blankets. The blankets, it turned out, came in handy about halfway through the program when the mid-June temperature settled into the middle 50s.
Some members of the orchestra donned jackets. Others shivered with the chill. In a lawn chair someone in the audience huddled under a tablecloth. And through it all, the music played.
Then, in between numbers, the director invited the kids to “get up and dance,” as the orchestra swung into a jazzy swing tune. Moments later, the kids began to surface. First a trickle, then a flood until a dozen or more children were dancing on the grass in front of the stage.
At the end of the concert, the audience was applauding the kids as much as the musicians. Everyone, still shivering, agreed the performance was a huge success. The Carmel Symphony returned to Zionsville for three more summer concerts. The final one, unfortunately, was rained out.
Last week the orchestra performed in the luxury of the Palladium Performing Arts Center in Carmel. The setting was a lot more formal than it was in Lions Park, but the music was just as riveting.
The concert blasted off with a medley from Star Wars then swept through a musical montage which included excerpts from Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, Offenbach’s “Can Can” from the movie “Moulin Rouge,” a couple of zippy numbers from the Broadway play “Wicked,” and a sort of graduation ceremonial offering with the ever somber “Pomp and Circumstance.”
Pianist Di Wu received a standing ovation for her powerful performance of Rachmoninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, and Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard walked onstage to conduct Sousa’s “Washington Post March.”
The final piece of the evening was “Stars and Stripes Forever,” a rousing march that has come to exemplify American patriotism more than any other piece of music.
I don’t remember all the musical numbers from 20 years ago. But I do recall the orchestra ended the concert with “Stars and Stripes Forever.”
The kids danced to that one, too.