Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra hosts annual Discovery Day

Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra hosts annual Discovery Day
Photo courtesy of Matt Leavell

The Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra is collaborating with the Tuscaloosa Community Dancers to bring to life Benjamin Britten’s narrated “Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra” through music and dance.

“Tuscaloosa Community Dancers was formed in 1971, becoming West Alabama’s leading non-profit dance organization,” said Alden Phillips, the artistic director of TCD’s spring show. “We are most known for our annual "Nutcracker" production performed at the Bama Theatre. TCD strives to stimulate, promote and develop interest in the art of dance through putting on performances, doing outreach programs and bringing in professionals for master classes.”

Britten’s “Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra” was created to teach children about the different instruments of an orchestra. The piece is a narrated performance that breaks down each part of the orchestra. Listeners of the piece can learn what different instruments sound like and how each instrument’s contribution is important to the orchestra.

“I will be dancing with the cello in this performance,” Ali Marshall said. “I am super excited about this role because I have a love for string instruments. I think they have such a beautiful sound and are perfect for ballet. Also, two years ago when TCD did "Carnival of the Animals" with the TSO, one of my roles was the white swan where my variation was played by just the cello. I am excited to work with the same instrument this year.”

Additionally, there will be a performance of Amilcare Ponchielli’s "Dance of the Hours", which will be portraying the hours of the day through solo and duo dances. There will also be sections such as “Peer Gynt” that will be familiar to members of the audience.

“There is so much excitement and nerves in the dancers because many of them have only danced to recordings and we only get one day of rehearsal with the orchestra before the performance,” Phillips said. “The returning dancers who have participated in the past Tuscaloosa Community Dancers and Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra collaborations are thrilled to be performing with them again. I am most looking forward to watching this collaboration come to life on stage and seeing the dancers’ joy of getting to perform with a live orchestra.”

The Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra’s Discovery Day will be held March 5 in the Moody Music Building concert hall. The two-hour event packed with music and dance will begin at 6 p.m.

“It is a pleasure to be invited by the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra to perform with them in their concert,” Phillips said. “Bringing this collaboration between dance and music to Tuscaloosa is a rare gift for both the performers and the audience. I am so thankful to be able to offer such a great opportunity and experience to our dancers of performing to live music.”

Members of the Tuscaloosa community can expect an evening full of lively art while the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra plays on stage behind the dancers.

“The annual Discovery Day Concert is nothing short of amazing,” said Mims McKee, a dancer from the harp section for Discovery Day. “The opportunity to dance with the symphony is like no other and it is always so much fun.”

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