MPO Family Fun Day: Emily Saves The Orchestra

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Laugh, Chant and Sing we did at Emily Saves The Orchestra last Sunday with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra. Emily Saves The Orchestra is a musical children’s program presented by Platypus Theatre from North America. I can safely say this is a creative and very informative performance, with lots of dancing and special unique characters with intricate looking masks that surely dazzled the young audience. The orchestra opened with The Nutcracker : “Trepak” by Tchaikovsky, setting the atmosphere of the late afternoon in a fast paced piece. The actors were yet to be seen at that moment until the end of the score.
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A flag dancer gracefully appeared to the tune of Symphony No. 6: “Storm” by Beethoven. The beautiful flowing flags of red, purple and yellow flowed onto the stage skillfully, as if dancing to the music with joy. The actors, Peter Duschenes who also play Opus, Danielle Desormeaux who plays Emily and dancer Amelia Griffin who plays The MONSTER (as well as Timpy and Melody) captured the gaze of the young audience as the music transitioned to Shepherd’s Song. This piece with the act simply seem to signify the peace, joy and victory of music in life as music can overcome all our stress and frustrations.
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Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9: “Ode to Joy” played beautifully led by conductor Gene Chang. This is a family piece played with so much grace it certainly captured our imaginations of all things beautiful. The MONSTER appears! Seemingly to look around and gather its plans of attack.

At The Comedians: Gallop, the MONSTER makes its move with his partner in crime, a bat like bird seemed to be his mouth piece. My 10 year old son, Josiah found The MONSTER mask to look like a Japanese lion dance mask. It certainly succeeded in looking fearsome, but the character was also a bit comedic. The MONSTER wanted to destroy music, so it made the orchestra chaotic and unable to play any piece in tune. There was no rhythm, melody and harmony.

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Through the bat, Emily was warned that after three crows, music will be destroyed forever. Emily had to save music, she had to find a way to play the spirit song, which was the Ode To Joy once again. This is when the performance gets really educational and informative. We learned about how Rhythm, Melody and Harmony works together to produce a beautiful piece of music and how the instruments are involved.
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Enters a new character Opus, a self proclaimed solution provider to all things music. Opus taught Emily about Rhythm in the simplest terms, even the youngest audience will be able to understand it. The audience clapped, sang and played along to Emily’s direction until the Orchestra gets the rhythm right. This is always the fun part of Family Fun Day. The dancer comes in and danced to Gayane: Sabre Dance by Khachaturian in short bursts of funny movements, in bright yellow leotards and bird looking mask. The audience were mesmerized yet kept wondering on what kind creature this was.
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We then learned about Melody through the wind instruments in Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite No.1: “Morning”. A beautiful track indeed that showcased each instruments unique sounds and clarity to produce the lead melody. The brass instruments also showed their might in La Peri: Fanfare, a track made just for them.
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The orchestra had finally nearly got their act together to save music, with one final crow to be heard. The young audience waited in anticipation to see how music could possibly be destroyed. The final pieces William Tell: Overture by Rossini and Canon by Pachelbel gave us glimpses of the importance of rhythm, melody and harmony as well as many aspects of music combined together to make the most beautiful music. Unfortunately, the last crow was still heard and there was a literal fight between good and evil as Emily battled with the MONSTER.

It was then with the help of the audience as we too, sang together with Emily to drown the chaos and noise before the MONSTER fell to the grounds and disappeared for good. Emily Saves The Orchestra was indeed a classic tale of good verses evil with a lot of suspence right to the end. It was enjoyable for both young and young at heart. I personally nearly shed a tear at Pachelbel’s Canon that made me not take music for granted, knowing the complexities of every note, every element and every instrument to make it sound that good. I believe that was also how all the audience felt at that point.

Josiah totally enjoyed the programme. He started going to the MPO concerts since he was 6.

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