Fri, Jun 25, 2004 - Page 17 News List

A tale about rats with a moral or two

The `Pied Piper Fantasy' tonight and tomorrow at the National Concert Hall combines music and theater to provide colorful entertainment

By Diana Freundl  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

So where did the Pied Piper take those kids?

PHOTO COURTESY OF NSO

A roaming musician was hired to rid the German town of Hamelin of its rats. While playing his flute he lured the rats to a nearby river where they drowned. Upon his return to Hamelin, the mayor refused to pay the piper and in an act of revenge the talented and eccentric flutist used his entrancing music once again to mesmerize the town's children and lead them away. But where did he take them?

The tale of the Pied Piper differs depending on its teller and part of what makes it so engaging is the way it lends itself to various interpretations.

The National Symphony Orchestra invites parents and theirchildren to a musical fairy tale performance of John Corigliano's Pied Piper Fantasy tonight and tomorrow at the National Concert Hall. Combining music and theater the NSO teamed up with If Kids Theater Company, turning a flute concerto into a fairy tale fantasy.

Popular kids entertainer Chao Chi-chiang (趙自強) narrates his version of the Pied Piper with some 15 actors playing the various parts. As he explained his reworking of the story it sounded more like a commentary on childrearing in Taiwan than a version of a fairy tale.

"I think Hamelin is like Taipei. Taipei children also need to be rescued. They need happiness and no more bad news," he said making a reference to recent reports of child abuse in the media.

Chao described the place where children are taken as a "fun land with theater, music and dance," but not quite a theme park like Disneyland.

He views the collaboration with the NSO as a way of providing educational children's entertainment, as opposed to being simply eye candy for kids.

"I hope Taiwan children can have more art in their entertainment, not just commercial and silly entertainments with no meaning," he said.

NSO music director Chien Wen-pin (簡文彬) agreed with Chao about the need to foster an appreciation of the arts in the youth of Taiwan. However he was hesitant to say just how much effect a yearly concert could have on the public and advocated a more comprehensive approach, such as art programs in public schools.

"They will be the next generation of people going to concerts. We have to train them young," he said with a laugh.

Sharing the part of the piper, Anders Norell, the NSO's principal flutist will lead the children in the beginning and at the end of the production. The Swedish-born musician said he originally thought his character was a wicked man. After rehearsing Chao's adaptation, however, he said he believed there was something honorable about the Pied Piper and his work.

"It's not the rats that bring the problems to the town, or the mayor who won't pay the piper. It's the adults that are bad and the point is to take the kids to a better place," he said donning the brightly colored cloak of the piper during a rehearsal.

Pied Pipe Fantasy is the second performance in a yearly series of family concerts. Last year the NSO and If Kids Theater Company put on a successful production of Peter and The Wolf.

The show has already sold out both the afternoon and evening performances on Saturday, but at the time of writing there were still some 200 tickets available for Friday evening. For information on dates and times around the island check the NSO Web site at www.ntch.edu.tw/nso.

Performance Notes:

What: The NSO (國家交響樂團) together with the If Kids Theater Company perform Corigliano's musical fairy tale Pied Piper Fantasy.

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