Wood County students attend ‘Rumpelstiltzkin’ concert

West Virginia Symphony Orchestra performs

Photo Provided Three members of the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra French horn section play a special antiphonal section of “Rumpelstiltzkin,” featuring from left Tom Beal, Luke Zyla and Marsha Palmer.

PARKERSBURG — Nearly 1,000 Wood County fourth-grade students attended the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra’s Young People’s Concert “Rumpelstiltzkin” on Thursday at Blennerhassett School Auditorium.

Presented by the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra at Parkersburg in cooperation with Wood County Schools, “Rumpelstiltzkin” is based on the fairy tale of spinning straw into gold.

It was composed and conducted by WVSO artistic adviser Grant Cooper, who introduced musical themes showing how each character is represented in the music. He also explained how that theme can be passed from one section of the orchestra to another creating a fugue.

Cooper also illustrated how a melody, much like a line drawing on a page, becomes a full color picture with the addition of all the instruments with rich harmonies. Without using words, the musical piece tells a story, slow and somber for sad times; fast and bright for happy times.

Betty King, WVSO vice president of operations and education, served as the narrator of the piece. She said this is a challenging piece for orchestra members featuring all the themes woven into an exuberant samba at the end that evokes the party atmosphere at the palace after Rumpelstiltzkin is thwarted, leaving the King, Queen and their child to live happily ever after.

Photo Provided Conductor Grant Cooper leads students in pantomiming spinning straw into gold.

The importance of bringing live orchestral music to elementary students is illustrated by the musical journey of Luke Zyla, retired Parkersburg South High School band director and teacher. Zyla said when he was a third-grade student at McKinley Elementary, he walked with his class to the Parkersburg High School Fieldhouse to see the WVSO performing a Young People’s Concert of “Peter and the Wolf.”

Fifteen years later, Zyla became a member of the WVSO and was delighted to find that Suzanne Riggio, the principal French Horn who inspired him, was still in the orchestra. Now serving as musical director at the Parkersburg Choral Society and the owner-operator of Soft Stands, a musical equipment supplier, Zyla is in his 37th year as a horn player with the WVSO.

The Young People’s Concert, along with “Shookstruck Trio,” a percussion concert for all third-graders and the Ohio Brass Concert for all fifth-graders, is presented each year by the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra-Parkersburg in cooperation with Wood County Schools. Funding comes from the Henry Logan Children’s Foundation, the West Virginia Symphony League-Parkersburg and the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra.

Photo Provided Narrator Betty King leads students in pantomiming spinning straw into gold.