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The Maryland Symphony Orchestra will present its second family concert'The Mozart Experience

featuring the Magic Circle Mime Company

featuring the Magic Circle Mime Company

April 25, 2002|BY KATE COLEMAN

Seven-year-old Sean Scro plans to attend the Maryland Symphony Orchestra's family concert Saturday, April 27, at The Maryland Theatre.

This will be the second time Sean has gone to an MSO family concert. He's an old hand.

What is the Greenbrier Elementary School first-grader expecting?

"People doing that mime stuff," he says.

He won't be disappointed.

But there will be a lot more than "mime stuff" in "The Mozart Experience," Saturday's 4:30 p.m. performance featuring Doug MacIntyre and Maggie Petersen of the Magic Circle Mime Company. There will be the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the Maryland Symphony Orchestra and a lot of fun for the whole family.

"The family audience is an underserved audience in the orchestra world," MacIntyre says.

But family concerts are not just for the kids, he says. The performances can reawaken parents' interest in orchestral music, and finally, the family can go to a concert together, he adds.


MSO Music Director Elizabeth Schulze feels that a Maryland Symphony Orchestra family concert is much needed. "It's my dream," she says, a dream she doesn't want to die. Family concerts serve to give a new and younger audience opportunities to appreciate classical music in a "somewhat less formal, almost casual, definitely entertaining" performance.

Schulze has worked with Magic Circle Mime Company before - in Buffalo, N.Y., and with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C.

"She's just great," says MacIntyre of Schulze.

MacIntyre and Petersen are "superbly funny," Schulze says.

Although children and adults can learn from the show, the performance will be very different from the educational concerts the orchestra performs for school groups. "It's a way of reaching kids in a creative and fun atmosphere," she says. The mimes are silent, but they make "musical noise," she says. They always bring the attention to the music, she adds.

Although they use some techniques of traditional French mime with its emphasis on dance, MacIntyre says Magic Circle Mime Company's mime is mime American-style - Charlie Chaplin- and Harpo Marx-ish. "The emphasis is on character," he explains.

"The Mozart Experience" is one of the duo's eight shows, performed with symphony orchestras all over North America, as well as other parts of the world, including Japan, China and Taiwan. Others include "Music, Noise and Silence," "The Magic Horn" and Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf."

MacIntyre and Petersen met in Spokane, Wash., where MacIntyre had written "The Listener" for the Spokane Symphony. Both have backgrounds in theater and instrumental music. MacIntyre played French horn as a student at Montana State University, inspired in part by recordings of Barry Tuckwell, whom he was surprised to hear had been the MSO's former music director.

In "The Mozart Experience" MacIntyre and Petersen portray street musicians who arrive at a concert hall before the orchestra. The audience is already there, so the two try to make a little money by playing a little music - Petersen on accordion, MacIntyre on trumpet.

Petersen sees the piano and sits down to play. Fearing trouble, MacIntyre exits, but Petersen, at the keyboard, pays no attention. "Art imitating life," MacIntyre says of his longtime performance partner, who lives in San Francisco with her husband and 12-year-old daughter.

The pair has been performing together for 23 years, says MacIntyre, who lives in Seattle.

Enter the orchestra's principal strings. Petersen noodles "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," which is Mozart's "Ah! Vous dirai-je, Maman" on the piano. The musicians play behind Petersen.

More musicians arrive, and eventually, the music becomes a concerto.

Saturday's performance will also be the second MSO family concert for Sean's little brother, Connor, 5, and his mom, Sioban Scro, of Hagerstown.

"Last year's was so wonderful," Scro says.

Her boys loved it.

"Music should be a part of everyone's life," Scro says.

She wants her sons to be exposed to classical music because it's part of history, she says. "I want my kids to be part of the continuum."

The Scro boys take age appropriate music classes at Hagerstown Community College's Symphony Music Center. Sean also has learned to play "Star Wars" and "Purple People Eater" in his piano lessons.

The family concert is "such a great idea," Scro says. "It's an enhancement to SpongeBob," she laughs, speaking of the television cartoon show.

The concert - wrapping up in just less than an hour - is not too long. It's nice to be able to bring little ones to a concert at the theater, she says.

"We're excited."

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