Photo by Mical Hutson, courtesy of Portland Symphony Orchestra

Curt Dale Clark is well aware that he will follow some of the biggest stars in the world of entertainment on Sunday when he narrates “Peter and the Wolf” at a Discovery Concert for families, hosted by the Portland Symphony Orchestra at Merrill Auditorium.

Written by the Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev, the symphonic fairy tale is among the most popular pieces in classical music, with more than 400 recordings since its debut in 1938. In the story, the narrator introduces the audience to different instruments of the orchestra by personifying them as animals and then weaving a story using those characters. Among those who have used their voices to bring the story to life over the years are David Attenborough, Sophia Loren, David Bowie, Sting, Alice Cooper, Patrick Stewart and Leonard Bernstein. World leaders have gotten into the act, too. Mikhail Gorbachev and Bill Clinton have done the honors.

Photo courtesy of Curt Dale Clark

Clark, an actor and theater director, has performed the narration a few times before, when he worked in Chicago, and appreciates the “abject simplicity” of the piece. He attributes its enduring popularity to its effectiveness. “The original idea was a good one, and it has stuck. Even if some of the underlying themes have changed as the world changes, it has survived because it’s a really good piece of work,” said Clark, artistic director of Maine State Music Theatre.

The Discovery Concert series focuses on kids between the ages of 4 and 12 and is intended for families. Sunday’s performance begins at 2:30 p.m. and lasts about an hour, and is preceded by an instrument petting zoo. While musicians are showing off their instruments, PSO music director Eckart Preu will lead a hands-on conducting lessons. Kids – and their parents – are encouraged to come in costume.

Sunday’s concert also will feature dancers from Portland Ballet and municipal organist James Kennerley on the Kotzschmar Organ. The orchestra also will perform the “Pink Panther” theme and the “Chicken Dance.”


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