The resident companies of the Granada Theatre are giving back to the venue with a special benefit performance of Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf,” which will showcase the young talent of organizations like the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony, Santa Barbara Youth Opera, and State Street Ballet’s school Gustafson Dance. On February 23, Santa Barbara Symphony artistic director Nir Kabaretti will conduct the Youth Symphony through the piece, its famous story further brought to life by narration from theatre scholar Simon Williams and dances from Gustafson Dance students. Though the venue has held performances of the symphonic children’s tale before, this is the first time it has hosted a performance by local kids, according to Granada Theatre executive chairman Palmer Jackson.
In an interview with the News-Press, Mr. Jackson commented that this production of “Peter and the Wolf” came about when the Community Arts Music Association of Santa Barbara decided to show its appreciation for The Granada by holding a benefit performance. Other resident companies like the Santa Barbara Symphony, Opera Santa Barbara, and State Street Ballet joined the effort, their respective youth performance groups Santa Barbara Youth Symphony, Santa Barbara Youth Opera, and Gustafson Dance all taking part in the show. “Peter and the Wolf” was chosen as it is one of the most popular pieces in the classical repertoire, and a very accessible one that serves as a gateway for young kids getting into classical music.
“It introduced a lot of kids to classical music because it tells a story,” he said.
That story is of a young Soviet pioneer boy named Peter who lives with his grandfather in a forest clearing. One day, the titular character leaves the gate open when entering the clearing, letting his pet cat and the duck that lives in the front yard out. When his grandfather scolds him for going into the meadow alone and warns about a wolf coming out of the forest, Peter gets brought back into the house and his grandfather locks the gate. Shortly thereafter, a wolf does come out of the woods and though Peter’s cat manages to escape, the duck gets eaten. Peter then climbs into a tree, ties a noose, and catches the wolf by his tail. Some hunters who have been tracking the wolf show up but rather than having them shoot the wolf, Peter asks them to help take the beast to a zoo.
Mr. Kabaretti remarked that he’s very much looking forward to conducting the Youth Orchestra to tell this very famous tale.
“There’s something very beautiful about telling a story we all grew up on,” he said.
The Santa Barbara Symphony conductor will lead the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony through the third section of the evening, which will follow an opening performance by Santa Barbara Youth Opera. Santa Barbara Youth Symphony conductor Andy Radford will then conduct the Youth Symphony through excerpts of Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” and sections of John Williams’ “Star Wars” score before delving into “Peter and the Wolf.” During the event’s main piece, the ensemble’s performance will be accompanied by narration from Simon Williams and dancing from Gustafson Dance students. Because performances of “Peter and the Wolf” usually only consist of music and narration, Mr. Kabaretti stated that the dancers make for a very special addition that will allow the audience to witness a visual representation of the story.
“The fact that they’re going to see dancers really adds to the experience,” Mr. Kabaretti said.
Mr. Jackson similarly stated that with this collaborative production of “Peter and the Wolf” is unlike any the Granada Theatre has hosted to date.
“We’ve never done it in this way, so that’s kind of the exciting part about it,” he said.
Tickets for “Peter and the Wolf” cost $10 for adults and are free for attendees 17 years old and younger. The show will begin at 2 p.m. at the Granada Theatre, located at 1214 State St.