SAI presents “Peter and the Wolf” for elementary students

Carolyn Schultz

Last Tuesday morning, Sigma Alpha Iota put on their annual production of “Peter and the Wolf” in collaboration with the Conservatory of Music, this time with a surprise ending.
Customarily, “Peter and the Wolf” is told as a children’s story, one with a horribly depressing and possibly scary ending. This year, conductor and SAI Ritual Vice President Tami Hockers decided to change things up. She approached Brian Pertl, conservatory dean and this year’s narrator for “Peter and the Wolf,” to create a happier ending to the story.
This classic children’s tale is about a boy named Peter and the animals of the meadow in which he plays. Peter is friends with the different animals, each represented in the musical work by different instruments and distinct melodies.
As with many children’s stories, Peter has an antagonist, the wolf. The wolf wants to eat the other animals in the meadow, actually succeeding in swallowing a duck before Peter can trap him. The story ends with a triumphant march as Peter proves he can outsmart his adversary and captures the wolf. Unfortunately, the story traditionally ends with the duck long gone. This year, Pertl gave him a second chance, claiming the wolf swallowed him alive and spit him back up. Lucky duck.
SAI is Lawrence’s professional music sorority. They put on the annual production of “Peter and the Wolf” as part of their philanthropic efforts in the Appleton community. This year’s event was organized by Ange Dvorak and was a group effort between members of the sorority and many conservatory students, who volunteered their time and talent to make this year’s rendition a success.
Over 250 elementary students, teachers and chaperones were bused in for the performance. The children were in awe of the chapel atmosphere and listened to the performance intently. Along with the happy ending, the children were treated to an “instrument petting zoo” after the performance. Little hands were allowed to pluck a cello and draw a bow across a violin’s strings. They asked junior April Verser to play her bassoon standing up, and they shook the percussion bells until the chapel reverberated with jingles.
I was amused during the performance by a little girl sitting next to me in the balcony who was not yet in elementary school. She would not sit still, and her blond pigtails bounced up and down as she danced to the music. She waved her hands in the air, mimicking the conductor. She covered her ears when the timpani drums sounded. She could barely peek over the balcony railing, but that did not stop her from trying to see everything.
Her experience is the reason why conservatory students and SAI members continually perform “Peter and the Wolf.” Giving these children an inspiring musical experience makes all their rehearsals and preparations worth it.
Hockers made sure to stress that the success of this year’s performance was due to a collective effort from all involved. The parts are extremely difficult, and many of the performers have graciously volunteered year after year to attend a mere three rehearsals and create an unbelievable and enchanting product.
“I’m lucky to work with such talent,” said Hockers.