"If it's not one of those iconic holiday experiences at this point, I think it's well on its way," Scott Galbraith says of the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas' annual performance of "The Snowman: A Family Concert." Galbraith is the vice president of programming and executive producer at the Walton Arts Center, co-presenter of the concert featuring the charming animated film about the friendship between a boy and a snowman. SoNA will perform the score live as the silent film is played.
Combining live orchestration with the animated visuals "brings an immediacy to an art form that isn't necessarily [otherwise] as immediate as live performance is," Galbraith continues. "It's this really wonderful blending of two-dimensionality and three-dimensionality, activating and bringing life to [the cartoon]."
A Family Concert’
WHEN — 2 p.m. Sunday
WHERE — Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville
COST — Sold out
INFO — 443-5600, waltonartscenter.org, sonamusic.org
BONUS — A local youth ensemble will perform holiday favorites in the Walker Atrium before the show, beginning at 1:15 p.m.
"What I think is interesting is you see what the instruments are like being played by a lot of people live," adds Matthew Herren, SoNA executive director. "We've all heard music, right? Because you can't avoid it. We all go to movies and hear the soundtrack, but we don't really think of what it takes to make the sound."
That's especially true for children, for whom the concept of the show was conceived (more or less -- it's meant for families, but also symphonic music-lovers of all ages). Based on the responses from the survey conducted following previous performances, Herren reveals "The Snowman" concert is often the very first symphonic experience for more than half the audience.
"The orchestra plays a few pieces by itself, which is not overtly educational, but you're getting a first-hand experience with the musicians, with the movie, with the young person," Herren mentions of the featured soloist -- 17-year-old Michael Tynes on cello. "Maybe they haven't seen a conductor who will turn around and talk to them and engage them, so it's I think an awesome introduction.
"Maybe in 40 years, they'll become SoNA patrons," he muses.
"It's great fun, for one thing, just to be in an environment that is so multi-generational," Galbraith says. "Then you layer on top of that the fact that it's holiday music that we all know and love ... there's a sing-along involved and special guests -- spirits are lifted. [Patrons are] literally bringing the experience out into the lobby. It's just a lighthearted, fun event."
The addition of post-show ornament painting with Community Creative Center, surprise guests, the holiday gift market displaying (and selling) works by local artisans in McBride Studio, and the sparkling holiday decor adding a level of magic to Walker Atrium make the WAC and the concert a holiday destination must for the entire family -- which was precisely the intention.
"I love being in the room with the energy the kids and their families bring," Herren shares. "It's sort of like a big party -- 'Snowman' is like that."
NAN What's Up on 12/15/2017
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