Peter and the Wolf 2022: Behind the Scenes

It was a thrill to enjoy BYSO’s beloved annual performance of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf on Saturday, November 12th with a sold-out audience at Symphony Hall! The collective final achievement is always impressive, but we’d like to share some of the courageous behind-the-scenes work of our young musicians that made this an especially memorable experience. Hear about the magic directly from them, and discover how to continue supporting journeys like theirs. Plus, if you weren’t able to join us in person, we invite you to watch this special BYSO video presentation of Prokofiev’s classic tale!

Genevieve Lefevre ’15, Narrator
When I approach narrating Peter and the Wolf with BYS, my priorities are keeping the children in the audience engaged and making sure that the orchestra is still the main attraction. This year I wanted to have a bit more play, so I added some silliness to the introduction and played with spacing a little bit more throughout. But I always come back to “how does this fit in with the musical storytelling?” My role is to enhance the beautiful work that the orchestra is already doing, not to distract from it. I know firsthand how hard the orchestra works to make each concert excellent. BYSO taught me a lot about work ethic. BYSO pushed me and taught me that the only thing standing between me and any goal I may have is hard work. Yes, there are obstacles, but BYSO helped me feel like no obstacle is truly insurmountable. I am so grateful to have been a part of a program that has shaped me in so many ways beyond excellent music education, and it is why I am thrilled by any opportunity to come back as an alum. Thank you, BYSO, for inviting me back for concerts and galas, and thank you for believing in me since I was a nine-year-old girl just starting out on viola.

Megan Huang, Flute/Bird
When I was at BYSO camp many years ago, I heard advanced players practicing the flute excerpt diligently in preparation for their auditions. I remember being inspired by their playing and how lively the music was. At my audition last summer, I tried to convey a little bird chirping and dancing. I’m so excited to play the flute part in Peter and the WolfI hope the audience enjoys our performance and perhaps other young musicians might be inspired just like I was.

Kristen Chun, Oboe/Duck
It’s been such an amazing experience being able to play a childhood favorite. Learning how to best represent and act out a story through music has definitely made me think about how I can interact with the rest of the orchestra in ways I never have.

Brandon Li, Clarinet/Cat
I visualized a sneaky, black cat. The moment the wolf caught my eye, I zipped up the tree branch and hit the altissimo F. I reassured myself after reaching a safer place and my heart slowed down. The heart-beat, a metronome, kept me on my paws.

Eric Gu, Bassoon/Grandfather
To this day, I still have vivid memories from when I was in elementary school and would beg my parents to play Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf on the car ride home from piano lessons. By playing the part which represents the grandfather, Peter and the Wolf has taken on the incredible role of enabling that connection to my younger self. When practicing my part I try to return to that magical moment when I first listened to the piece, and I craft my notes to emanate such a mystical feeling through my very own instrument. 

Sophie Berk, Horn/Wolf
When I was younger, I would come to see my brother (who also played the Wolf) perform Peter and the Wolf with BYSO. He inspired me to practice and work hard to be able to perform it when I was older. Now, I am the one on stage playing the Wolf part, and I hope that my playing inspires other kids to work hard, like my brother’s playing did for me. 

Jasmine Chen, Horn/Wolf
In Peter and the Wolf, the French horn represents the wolf. Although all the other animals are represented by a soloist, the horns play together as a section. It’s a lot of fun to play the antagonist of the story. To get into character, I envision the strong and scary wolf that is lurking in the forests. Playing the wolf tune in harmony as a section, we evoke a sense of danger and mystery. I feel empowered when immersed in the rich sounds of our low-range melody. I wouldn’t want to play any other instrument!

Isabelle Lee, Horn/Wolf
This will be my fifth (and last!) year playing Peter and the Wolf. Getting to play Peter and the Wolf is really special because when I look out at the audience I can see how excited the kids are and how the music and story inspires them. I can remember feeling similarly the first time I performed with BYSO in fourth grade. I can’t believe it is my senior year already, but I am so grateful for all BYSO has given me.

Chase Rheault, Percussion/Hunters
Ever since I was little, I was fascinated by music, a passion that was fostered by my first viewing of Peter and the Wolf in elementary school. As the piece had been my first significant interaction with orchestral compositions, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to later preform Peter and the Wolf in a culmination of my developing appreciation for classical music. Despite having played this piece multiple times with BYSO, I never tire of working with my colleagues to produce a memorable experience that inspires so many young children in the way that I was once impacted by Prokofiev’s composition.

The accomplishment of playing in front of a sold-out audience at Symphony Hall is the culmination of months of hard work, courage, and perseverance. Our students find musical excellence on stage but also discover excellence in character along the way.