Vancouver Symphony

Kids Concert: Tchaikovsky Discovers America

Conductor Evan Mitchell Hosts David Nisbet and Nathalie Berg

Date 4 November 2007@ 14.00 Venue Orpheum Theatre Reviewer Heidi Hoff

The VSO's 007/2008 season of the Spectra Energy Kids’ Koncerts opened with flair. Tchaikovsky Discovers America, adapted from Susan Hammond’s award-winning Classical Kids recording, made for an enjoyable performance as it was simply, yet effectively transitioned from compact disc to the stage.

The VSO acted as the backdrop for the tale of Tchaikovsky’s arrival in New York for the grand opening of Carnegie Hall in 1891 and his train journey to Niagara Falls. David Nisbet as Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Natalie Berg as Jennie, a young girl he befriends on the train, touch on some of the more recognizable pieces of Tchaikovsky’s work and at the same time give entertaining insight into his personality, too.

Tchaikovsky and Jennie move through musical and dance vignettes that illustrate Tchaikovsky’s life in Russia and the inspirations behind some of his most famous compositions. He also admits to a fear of conducting, which Jennie eventually helps him to over come by staying “strong, free and full of hope.”

Tchaikovsky tries to make sense of what he sees in America, the lights and vibrant energy he sees in Times Square, for example, compared to his simple life in Russia. Jennie, the daughter of a Russian immigrant, knows no other life than America and is filled with trepidation at the prospect of her father moving the family back to Russia. Through each other’s experiences, Tchaikovsky and Jennie realize that there are many wonderful things about both worlds.

Nisbet makes for an entertaining and credible Russian accented Tchaikovsky, and Berg’s portrayal of a wide-eyed, ballet-loving young girl was fresh and delightful. The VSO performed spirited selections from The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, qne Swan Lake and closed with the finale from the 1812 Overture. Tchaikovsky Discovers America was an enjoyable and highly educational look at one of the world’s greatest composers.

If you haven’t yet subscribed to the Kids’ Koncert series, now is a good time. The varied programmes featured throughout the season are a wonderful way to introduce children to the world of classical music and bring a bit of culture to your own Sunday afternoons.

© 2007 Heidi Hoff