An interview with Bruce Adolphe, the creator of Bravo! Vail’s Spring Family Concerts, ‘Leave it to Ludwig’
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What: “Leave it to Ludwig,” Bravo! Vail’s Spring Family Concerts.
When and where: 4 p.m. Saturday, April 8, at the Vilar Performing Arts Center, 68 Avondale Lane, Beaver Creek; and 4 p.m. Sunday, April 9, at Eagle Valley High School, 641 Valley Road, Gypsum.
Cost: $5 for adults, free for children and students
More information: Call 877-812-5700, or visit bravovail.org.
About ‘Leave it to Ludwig’
In “Leave it to Ludwig,” Ludwig van Beethoven magically appears to help a young pianist master the maestro’s music. Full of true stories from Beethoven’s life and excerpts from his string quartets and piano music, this one-hour performance is an opportunity for kids ages 6 and older and their families to discover live classical music.
Bruce Adolphe, creator of Bravo! Vail’s Spring Family Concerts: “Leave it to Ludwig,” is a renowned composer whose music is performed throughout the world, an author of several books on music, an innovative educator and a versatile performer.
Adolphe’s multifaceted career in music is obvious from the positions he holds concurrently: resident lecturer and director of family concerts for The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York, composer-in-residence at the Brain and Creativity Institute in Los Angeles and founding creative director of The Learning Maestros and the Piano Puzzler on American Public Radio’s Performance Today.
Q: As an innovative music educator, what is unique about your family programs?
a: My family programs mix comedy, drama and music together so that the result is a play and a concert at the same time. Whether it is “Leave it to Ludwig” or “Tyrannosaurus Sue: a Cretaceous Concerto” or “Albert and Wolfgang (Einstein and Mozart!),” the shows let people learn about the world through music and learn about music, too.
It is important to me that the shows convey a sense of discovery and inspire kids to think creatively. In all my composer-based shows, such as “My Brother Franz Schubert,” “The Magical World of Maurice Ravel,” “Leaping Leopold” and, of course, “Leave it to Ludwig,” the composer I portray speaks directly about the creative process and reveals the mysterious methods of musical composition. Also, I like to show how real life affects the creation of music, and so, in character, the various composers tell their personal stories and relate it to the music, so that when the music is performed it opens a world of ideas and feels relevant to our lives as human beings in society.
Q: In your experience with the “Leave it to Ludwig” program, what do kids walk away with?
a: The kids walk away with their brains full of (Ludwig van) Beethoven’s wonderful music and true, inspiring stories about his life. Plus, they usually leave energized about live music, having heard amazing young musicians perform on stage, which is very different from listening to MP3 files on earphones. It is unusual to encounter the thrill of live drama, to laugh at wacky comedy and be swept away by great music all in one hour, but that is what happens in “Leave it to Ludwig.”
Q: Why should Vail Valley families attend one of the “Leave it to Ludwig” performances?
a: The main reason to come to “Leave it to Ludwig” is that it’s one hour of something completely different that could change a young person’s life in a wonderful way. To be turned on to Beethoven is to start a life-long journey of engagement with thrilling, inspiring, unique music. This concert might well be one of those special childhood experiences that one never forgets. Many years from now, when your children have their own children, they will remember “Leave it to Ludwig” and want their kids to have that kind of experience. Hey, it is one hour of enchantment that lasts a lifetime.
Q: Your career has been incredibly diverse; how did you get started creating family programs?
a: Inspired by Leonard Bernstein’s Young Peoples Concerts, I gave my first concerts for kids when I was 10 years old, playing the score on the piano of (Sergei) Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” and narrating it myself. After presenting this as a project to my own fifth-grade class, the principal of my elementary school arranged for me to tour other elementary schools on Long Island, where I grew up.
Many years later, after working as a composer — writing chamber music, writing for theater and scoring short films— I was commissioned by the New York Chamber Symphony to compose music that would include audience participation for elementary schools in New York City. The kids were wonderfully engaged and enthusiastic, and that turned me on to young audiences.
But aside from composing family concert music, I felt that it would be wonderful to introduce kids to composers like (Joseph) Haydn, (Wolfgang Amadeus) Mozart, Beethoven, (Franz) Schubert, (Claude) Debussy, (Maurice) Ravel and (Igor) Stravinsky by creating special concerts with scripts. And soon, I found myself on stage acting the roles of these composers. Now, I have in my clothes closet a Beethoven wig, a Mozart wig and an (Albert) Einstein wig (Einstein was not a composer, but he played violin and piano, and he loved Mozart).
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