How do you get a gaggle of pre-schoolers to sit still for a serious orchestra? Janet Albright, a puppeteer and musician, has come up with one solution.
For the Virginia Chamber Orchestra's performance this Wednesday at the Wolf Trap Barns -- a special event to be attended by 100 3- to 5-year-olds from the Valley Green Day Care Center in Southeast Washington--Albright plans to enlist the help of a couple of puppets named Scarface and Spring Lily.
They figure to be the stars when the 35-piece orchestra plays parts of Edward MacDowell's "Second Indian Suite" and Albright recounts a Blackfoot Indian legend about love and heroism. Albright, who has a master's in music theory and composition, arranged MacDowell's music and pared it down to fit the show.
Guest conductor Andrew Litton, who holds the Exxon Arts Endowment fellowship with the National Symphony, will be standing in this Wednesday for Virginia Chamber music director Miran Kojian, who's taking a year's leave of absence to conduct the Hong Kong Philharmonic.
Litton, just out of Juilliard, is all of 23. "It's a lot of fun to play for kids," he said. "You just have to keep it short . . . I actually got my whole craving for becoming a conductor from going to a Young People's Concert with Leonard Bernstein."
The 11-year-old Virginia Chamber Orchestra just received a $5,000 grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts to continue its musical outreach programs -- for adults as well as children -- throughout the state.