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‘Through the Eyes of a Child:’ WASO program celebrates a child-like Christmas

Dr. Amy Laursen will be the featured soloist on Mozart’s horn concerto at the WASO concert, scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at Memorial Auditorium. Laursen is a music and horn professor at University of South Dakota, Vermillion. (Special to The Globe)

WORTHINGTON — Its theme is “Through the Eyes of a Child,” but the Worthington Area Symphony Orchestra (WASO) concert scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday is in fact intended for everyone.

“Yes, we have a very child-friendly program in that all the pieces relate to youth in some way,” explained Dr. Christopher Stanichar, WASO conductor.

“Really, this will be a wonderful concert with a lot of familiar holiday music that people will enjoy whether they are still children or are simply young at heart.”

In keeping with that idea, WASO is, for the first time, opening its doors for free to children 10 and under when they are accompanied by a paying adult.

The evening will begin with Mozart’s Concerto in E-flat major for French horn and orchestra. Amy Laursen, an assistant professor of horn and music at University of South Dakota, Vermillion, is the featured soloist.

“Mozart began composing music when he was a kid and he died very young — at age 36,” noted Stanichar. “It’s a gorgeous piece, and we’re very blessed to have Amy Laursen joining us.”

Karen Pfeifer, one of four WASO leadership team members, concurs.

“It’s not often that we get to hear a French horn concerto played by a musician of her caliber, so I’m really looking forward to that,” said Pfeifer, a violist in the orchestra.

Nevertheless, it’s Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” that Stanichar says is the centerpiece of the program.

“’Peter and the Wolf’ is a favorite that introduces young people, and audiences of all ages, to the various orchestral instruments,” explained Pfeifer.

“It allows everyone to hear the individual sounds made by certain instruments, and several animals are represented by select instruments.”

Taylor Huwe, a music teacher at Prairie Elementary, will provide the narration for “Peter and the Wolf.”

Georges Bizet’s “Children Games” is also on tap.

“Bizet’s work is a lovely piece that’s not frequently played,” said Stanichar, who is eager to share it with area concert goers.

Christmas tunes, including a medley from “The Polar Express,” Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride” and two Chip Davis-arranged numbers — “Stille Nacht” and “Deck the Halls” — round out the program, which will conclude with WASO’s traditional finale, Sioux Falls composer Dan Goeller’s “A Christmas Carol Sing-Along.”

“And ’Sleigh Ride’ is an American classic, complete with all the fun percussion like jingle bells and horse’s whip that everyone loves so much,” said Pfeifer.

In all, 52 musicians will perform in this 17th WASO concert, which marks the start of the ensemble’s ninth season.

“WASO is such a valuable part of Worthington and the surrounding area,” said Stanichar. “It’s always wonderful to see how the musicians grow from concert to concert.”

Added Kris Stewart, a WASO flutist who is also on the WASO leadership team, “It’s children who seem to enjoy Christmas the most, and if we can look at the season through the eyes of a child, it prompts us to remember all the joy it can bring.

“Hopefully, this music will help people anticipate Christmas.”

The Worthington Area Symphony Orchestra’s holiday concert, “Through the Eyes of a Child,” takes place at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center, 714 13th St., Worthington. All tickets are reserved and can be purchased at the door prior to the concert, at the box office from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays, by calling 376-9101 or by visiting www.friendsoftheauditorium.com. Children 10 and under may attend free of charge with an accompanying adult.