Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Orchestra offering ‘A French Musical Playground’ in Green Bay

Critic At Large

Civic Symphony of Green Bay


Civic Symphony of Green Bay will continue its 25th season with “A French Musical Playground” this week in Meyer Theatre.

The performance, the orchestra’s “Music for Young Listeners Concert,” starts at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15. Info: or

Conducting is Seong-Kyung Graham, artistic director of the orchestra.

According to a press release: Featured will be works by French composers.

Included are Francis Poulenc’s “The Story of Babar, the Little Elephant,” Georges Bizet’s “Jeux d’infants (Children’s Games)” and Claude Debussy’s “Clair de lune.”

The concert will also feature two pieces composed by Jacques Offenbach, “The Doll Song” from the opera “Tales of Hoffmann” and the overture from the opera “Orpheus in the Underworld.”

Poulenc’s “The Story of Babar, the Little Elephant” is based off the classic French children’s book written and illustrated by Jean de Brunhoff. The work is arranged for orchestra and a narrator. The narrator tells how Babar the elephant grows up with both elephants and humans in his life.

Narrating will be Alex Sabin. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Sabin works with the Broadway Theatre of De Pere and with Studio12. In this area, he has performed with Theatre Z, Northeastern Wisconsin Dance Organization, St. Norbert College Music Theatre, The Dance Company, Evergreen Productions and Third Avenue Playhouse of Sturgeon Bay.

In Bizet’s “Jeux d’ enfants,” each movement represents a traditional aspect of childhood, with the movements are named accordingly. One movement is called “La Toupie (Spinning Top),” and the first few measures start with fast alternating notes. It is like a person is waiting to see if a spinning top will keep spinning or fall.

The other movements are “Trompette et Tambour (Trumpet and Drum),” “La Poupée (The Doll),” “Le Bal (Prom)” and “Petit Mari, Petite Femme (Little Husband, Little Woman).”

Debussy’s famous “Clair de lune (Moonlight),” arranged for orchestra, was inspired by a poem written by Paul Verlaine in 1869 titled “Clair de lune.” Debussy depicts the “calm moonlight sad and beautiful” just as Verlaine’s poem states.

“The Doll Song” will feature soprano Maria Hinnendael. Hinnendael is a 2018 graduate of St. Norbert College and holds degrees in vocal performance and communication. She is the co-founder of The Princess Company, in which she plays the roles of a few Disney princesses. Hinnendael was recently appointed as the choir director at St. Agnes Parish. Hinnendael cantors regularly at St. Norbert Abbey and teaches voice lessons at Studio 12.

The overture from “Orpheus in the Underworld” includes the “Can Can.” The “Can Can” is well-known today as a happy romp for many people.

Civic Symphony of Green Bay is made up of volunteer musicians are teachers, professional musicians, doctors, engineers and other occupations.

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