LaSheena Gordon (left) and Samuel Garcia (right) courtesy of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra

‘PETER AND THE WOLF’: A CHILDREN’S CONCERT
THURSDAY 4/1. 10 a.m. Virtual, arkansassymphony.org/aso-childrens-concert. Free. 

If there’s anything we’ve learned from Bob Dorough and Fred Rogers, let it be that what is good for children is usually good for all of us. So it is with this spring concert from the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, presented virtually and with free admission. Streamed from the Robinson Center Performance Hall in downtown Little Rock, the program features Prokofiev’s 1936 symphonic fairy tale for children, which Prokofiev biographer Harlow Robinson called “a subtly subversive tract, encouraging children to rely on their wits and not on the greater experience (and inertia) of their elders.” (Was there ever a more appropriate year for such a thing?) Vocalist LaSheena Gordon narrates the piece, a role which has been performed by talents like David Bowie, Leonard Bernstein, Itzhak Perlman and many others. For Gordon, an educator and lead singer for Little Rock-based jazz/soul ensemble Off the Cuff, narrating the role has some personal resonance; Gordon struggled to read as a young student at Rose City Elementary, and knows the importance of seeing people of color represented in the classical medium. “I love that when this production is streamed,” Gordon said, “that all of the babes watching will get to see a little brown girl magic and think, ‘I want to be able to read just like that!’ as they hear the instruments of the orchestra introduced.” As she was rehearsing, Gordon told us, “all of those memories of being a little girl and trying to read came back. It was tough. But it was really just a neat thing.” The second of this brief program is familiar and beloved territory: Vivaldi’s “Spring” from his weather-lovin’ (and groundbreaking) suite “The Four Seasons,” featuring violinist Samuel Garcia. Paired together, the two pieces are a sprightly introduction to the orchestra’s many colors and an affirmation of all the reasons humans choose to tell stories through music. Register here. SS

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