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Sarasota Orchestra reaches out to Spanish-language audiences

Written by on Saturday, March 23, 2024

‘Pedro y el Lobo’ features a local music teacher, chance to try instruments, and chat with musicians.

By Johannes Werner

Original Air Date: Mar. 22, 2024

Host: For at least three generations, “Peter and the Wolf” has been a major vehicle to draw children into classical music. Instrument by instrument, and guided by a narrator through a backyard drama plot, Peter and the Wolf draws the little ones into symphonic music. In the piece created by Russian composer Sergei Prokofieff in 1936, kids learn to associate the characters with musical instruments. Now, the Sarasota Orchestra is turning it into “Pedro y el Lobo”, to venture out to a new audience: Spanish-speaking families. Our news team reports.

[Narrator Victor Fernández introduces himself in Spanish]

Johannes Werner: This is Victor Fernández, who will take listeners by the hand to guide them through the Spanish version of Peter and the Wolf this Sunday.

Victor Fernández

Fernández is not only a violinist who conducts the Sarasota youth orchestra, but he taught music at a middle school in Sarasota.

He took real ownership of the job, requesting changes to the Spanish translation Sarasota Orchestra put before him. RoseAnne McCabe is the vice president of artistic operations for the orchestra.

RoseAnne McCabe: He’s asked a lot of questions about it. And the last time we talked, he said, ”You know, I’ve made a few changes. Is that okay? Because the translation that we had actually didn’t didn’t flow the way that he felt like it needed to, as a native speaker. And so we said, ‘Absolutely, please, please go ahead and make those changes and make this your own’.

JW: This is not just about sitting down to consume the music. Before and after the concert, there will be an instrument petting zoo, with opportunities to actually play an instrument. There will be coloring activities, and there will be opportunities to speak with the professional musicians.

RM: We really pulled on our Spanish speaking members of our orchestra. Also some ushers and volunteers that we know that are Spanish speaking to help us with that, to facilitate that.

JW: This one-off experiment is the first bigger foray of the Sarasota Orchestra to reach out to Spanish-speaking audiences.

RM: This is kind of our first foray into creating something for the Spanish speaking community. It is a little backwards right? [laughs] We would love to reach out and say, ‘Hey, what what would you be interested in?’ But I think we’re just going to take this as our opportunity to make our first connection. The orchestra loves playing Peter and the Wolf, it is a great story. And if somebody isn’t already aware of the story, it’s still a wonderful way to get to know the orchestra. It’s a great introduction to the orchestra. So it’s a nice opportunity for us, and so far, we’re seeing quite a bit of interest in it. And that will give us the conduit to be able to have further conversations. ‘Hey, this is what we offered. But you know, next time what is it that you’d like to hear? What’s the best way to connect?’ So I think we’re going to use it as a way to start establishing a conversation

JW: The conductor of both the English and the Spanish version, by the way, is a native Spanish speaker, too. Alexander Jiménez is the director of orchestral activities of the College of Music at Florida State University in Tallahassee.

For details of the concert this Sunday, visit https://www.sarasotaorchestra.org/concerts/special-concerts/pedro-y-el-lobo.

Reporting for WSLR News, this has been Johannes Werner.


WSLR News aims to keep the local community informed with our 1/2 hour local news show, quarterly newspaper and social media feeds. The local news broadcast airs on Wednesdays and Fridays at 6pm.