Peter and the Wolf, Sergei Prokofiev’s charming 45-minute orchestral children’s story, is so effective that it’s a wonder more composers haven’t tried something similar. Composed as a commission in 1936 under the dark shadow of Stalin’s Soviet Union, this charming exposition of the roles of various instruments, each of them assigned to a different character, took a few years to catch on, but it has been continuously in the repertoire ever since. The unforgettable score sounds deceptively simple — musicians report that these little melodies can be fiendishly difficult to play — but the impact remains enormous, as children too young to read can learn by listening to hear the distinctive qualities of the flute, clarinet, strings, oboe, bassoon, and French horn.
For Michael Katz, a longtime favorite of Santa Barbara story lovers and kids everywhere, Saturday’s performance is a chance to express his own vocal range, albeit in spoken-word form rather than in song. When I chatted with him by phone last week, he had just left a kindergarten classroom in Fremont and took a moment to tell me a little about his plans. “I’ve got an idea for the cat’s voice,” he confided, “that’s based on Carol Channing.” While the children in the audience may not pick up on the reference, you can be sure they will be leaning in for the content, which Katz will deliver with style.
The performance begins at 3 p.m. on Saturday, November 26, at the Granada Theatre (1214 State St.), and tickets are wonderfully affordable, with family four-packs available for just $25. The event is sponsored by the Santa Barbara Symphony along with the S.B. Center for the Performing Arts and the S.B. Arts Commission. At 2 p.m., there will be a special KidZone with activities provided by the Symphony’s Music Van, the Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation, and the S.B. Public Library. The event is suitable for children as young as 3 years old.