Ragtime Revelry At The Alex Theatre

April 6, 2011

Ragtime dancing

I am constantly amazed by the quality and caliber of artists and musicians who create an entertaining and educational experience for young and old minds. Last Sunday, we were invited to see the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s Ragtime Xylophonia at the Alex Theatre in Glendale, California. This was the first time we had been at any event at the Alex Theatre or for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Our time at Ragtime Xylophonia was immensely enjoyable because of the variety of pre-show activities and, of course, the show itself.

As soon as we entered, to the right, was an art station by Kidspace Children’s Museum. They were using recycled materials to create Earth-friendly art projects. On the left, was Louise Reichlin teaching children and any adult who wanted to participate, Ragtime dance moves. Mishy got into the spirit and danced away – first by watching and slowly trying, and then by dancing her own way, with Ragtime flair.

Mishy trying some ragtime dance steps in her own space.

After her dance lesson, we headed upstairs where there was an instrument petting zoo. The instruments were provided for by Metzler Violins and the students of Central Los Angeles High School #9: School for Visual and Performing Arts volunteered for this program.There were line ups that felt slower because it was crowded – crowded because every child or every parent wanted their child to pet an instrument. Mishy picked up a violin, which was a bit too big for her. Nevertheless, she was fascinated by the sound she made when she moved the bow across the strings. There were smaller violins to pet as well as a cello. I am told the variety of instruments change and at every concert, they are different. We will be going to see their next concert on May 1st – Whimsical Winds – I’m looking forward to seeing which instrument my daughter would like to pet then.

Mishy trying the violin during the Instrument Petting Zoo.

We next headed downstairs to the tent which was set up on the side of the Alex Theatre. REMO Recreational Music Center had set up a drum circle activity by offering different drums to beat. Mishy and Babba beat drums to their own beat and then Mishy helped put away the drums as the ushers told us it was time to head inside for Ragtime Xylophonia.

Drumming with Remo.

The program started with Wade Culbreath on the xylophone. Mr. Culbreath has a loyal adult following. There were hoots and hollers after his solo performance. There was also a great deal of applause. Alan Chapman then walked on stage and hosted the performance, starting with a short interview with Mr. Culbreath. Mr. Chapmans’s voice via the microphone is as smooth as it is on radio. We listen to him every morning on Los Angeles’ only classical radio station, KUSC 91.5FM on his program, Modern Times.  Mr. Chapman gracefully introduced the musicians and at the end of the show moderated the questions with an expert’s flair and great comic timing.

Ragtime Xylophonia featured the compositions of George Hamilton Green, who was simply the greatest xylophonist in the world. He elevated the xylophone to the position of it being seen as a legitimate musical instrument. We were privy to five of his works as well as the work of his brother, Joe Green.

Tickets are still available for Whimsical Winds on May 1st at 2PM. One hour prior to the performance, they offer a variety of fun and educational children’s programming.

Details:

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

http://www.laco.org/

Press release for Whimsical Winds

http://www.laco.org/press/318

George Hamilton Green

http://georgehamiltongreen.com/

Alan Chapman

http://www.kusc.org/Hosts/AlanChapman.aspx

Kidspace Museum

http://www.kidspacemuseum.org/

REMO Recreational Music Center

http://www.remo.com

Bonus Photo:

After the show, we walked around Glendale and found a Japanese restaurant which had terrific lunch specials until 4PM. Mishy and Babba played with the Benjamin Franklin statue outside the restaurant.

Mishy and Babba hanging out with Benjamin Franklin

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