St. Olaf Orchestra to present ‘Puppets, Pranks and a Polka’ Sunday

The St. Olaf Orchestra, led by conductor Steven Amundson, will present a special family-oriented program titled “Puppets, Pranks and a Polka” Sunday, March 12, at 3:30 p.m. in the college’s Skoglund Center Auditorium. The performance is free and open to the public.

“This is a family-friendly concert and I very much hope to interest kids and their parents,” says Amundson, who adds that there is nothing more gratifying than seeing young people at the orchestra’s performances. “I believe the St. Olaf Orchestra is a great model for young musicians and I personally invite all children to what will be an entertaining and exciting display of the orchestral instruments.”

The program includes two works by Igor Stravinsky: Circus Polka and what Amundson calls the “wonderfully colorful” ballet, Petrouchka. The orchestra also is performing Richard Strauss’ Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks.

“Since Petrouchka and Till closely follow a story line that I think will appeal to the younger audience, prior to the performance of each I’ll be having the orchestra members demonstrate the various characters and situations they find themselves in,” explains Amundson.  

The percussion section will be featured in Hands, a hand-clapping piece by Twin Cities composer Mary Ellen Childs, who served for several years on the St. Olaf music faculty. Fiddlers’ Contest by another Twin Cities composer, Shelley Hanson, will highlight the string section. The program will conclude with the lively Dance of the Comedians from Bedrich Smetana’s larger work, The Bartered Bride.