ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — “Music, Dinosaurs and Dance” is the first concert that The Figueroa Music and Arts Project has put together especially for kids since its founding in 2011.
This family-friendly concert that’s a collaboration with Festival Ballet Albuquerque and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science takes place next Sunday at the KiMo Theatre.
“I wanted to play (Darius) Milhaud’s ‘The Creation of the World’ and (Bruce) Adolphe’s ‘Tyrannosaurus Sue: A Cretaceous Concerto’ in a concert together because they complement each other, and I got the idea of approaching the history and science museum to collaborate with us,” said artistic director Guillermo Figueroa. “They were thrilled to work with us.”
Figueroa opens the concert by talking about the afternoon’s musical selections. Seven string and wind players present Adolphe’s piece while Figueroa narrates its story about dinosaurs named Tyrannosaurus Sue, represented by the trombone; Troodon, portrayed by a clarinet; Parasaurolophus, played by a bassoon; and Triceratops, represented by a French horn.
The piece is written in seven movements, including the Birth of Sue, Competing for Food with the Troodon, Chasing the Parasaurolophus and Battle with the Triceratops. An on-stage video screen flashes images of dinosaurs, while real dinosaur bones and a part of one skull are exhibited by the Natural History Museum in the lobby.
Wanting to inspire youth during the concert, Figueroa has invited University of New Mexico sophomore Joshua Rupley to play Frédéric Chopin’s Ballade No. 4 in F Minor. This musically and technically challenging piece, which was composed in 1842, is one of four, one-movement ballads that Chopin wrote for solo piano.
“Joshua is a phenomenal pianist doing undergraduate work at UNM,” said Figueroa.
Continuing the concert without intermission, 17 instrumentalists launch into a rendition of Milhaud’s “The Creation of the World” (la création du monde). The piece is a 20-minute-long ballet about the creation of the world that’s based on African folk mythology.
Milhaud, a French composer and teacher who studied at the Paris Conservatory, wrote the work in 1923, the year after he first listened to jazz on the streets of Harlem, N.Y. Jazz’s influence is heard throughout the piece.
Dancing to the music are 20 children and a group of professional dancers from Festival Ballet Albuquerque, which was founded in 2010. There are three companies of dancers within the parent company that present the work of nationally known choreographers. Patricia Dickinson Wells, the ballet’s artistic director and a director on the board of The Figueroa Music and Arts Project, has choreographed the movements for “The Creation of the World.”
“Even though the performance is put together with kids in mind, the music is definitely sophisticated,” said Figueroa. “All the pieces are accessible to listeners, so I think audience members of all ages will enjoy this concert.”