2019 Young People’s Concert: Once Upon a Time Performance


Stand-in Orlando Philharmonic Maestro Chris Confessore (right) and 2019 Young People’s Concert storyteller Candace Neil (left).

Brendan Guillen and Quinn Summerville

Brendan Guillen, OCSA Ledger
The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and Ballet performing the Once Upon A Time themed 2019 Young People’s Concert.

For November 13-14th of 2019, the Osceola County School for the Arts hosted the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orlando Ballet and members of the Opera of Orlando as they presented a show for Osceola County Elementary School and junior-high school students.

There were numerous schools  in attendance, including Saint Cloud Middle, Thacker Elementary, and Neptune Middle. The show followed the concept of a typical fairy tale narrative, with a kingdom and a castle and a princess. The princess decides to hold a ball which the villain –appropriately named Villain Von Vicious–crashes, then captures the princess and a hero saves her. The audience –the kids– became the collective hero of the story, saving the princess. The show taught essential storytelling elements by allowing the students to vote on what setting they wanted for the story and the name of the kingdom, thus giving a bit of insight on the story-making process.

The orchestra set the tone for the entire show, playing a variety of pieces from The Huntresses from Sylvia by Leo Delibes, to La Veau d’or by Charles-Francois Gounod, and the Parade of the Ewoks from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi by John Williams. The princess was played by a member of the Opera of Orlando. The Orlando Ballet played party goers at the princess’ ball and the search party when she went missing. There were a few terms and concepts explained, such as largo and presto, which mean slow and fast, respectively.

The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra began their student-centered performances in Orange County. Seven years ago, they expanded into Osceola County, according to Ms. Pamela Haas, the Osceola County Fine and Performing Arts Resource Specialist. There is a contract between the Orchestra and Brevard, Orange and Osceola counties, which allows the orchestra to teach within the educational standards of each county through their performances.

Chris Confessore, the maestro for the two-day show, explained that the lesson for each performance changes every year. “What you’re gonna see is significantly different from what we had originally planned, and that is because we  change to suit the standards,” Confessore stated. The April 2019 show, for example, had a focus on theater etiquette. Confessore has worked alongside the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra for seven years, though he does not hold an official position within the orchestra. The addition of the Orlando Ballet and Opera of Orlando into the show demonstrates the integration of the arts.

Candace Neil, the play-write and storyteller for the show, explained that the intent was to “have an actual narrative and entertain, but also educate through what we do.” To help integrate the younger audience, the names of the actors, the pieces and the performers were displayed on the projector rather than announced. They also had the students do polls for what they wanted to happen within the story.

Neil and Confessore had some words of advice for upcoming artists. “Some of the greats were imperfect. There is a place for every character on the stage” was Neil’s advice. Confessore said “To make our machine, our orchestra work, you have individual roles. It is important not only to collaborate, but also realize the importance of the roles people around you have.”

Neil had advice for our school in particular. In order to make Masterclass and Recital more appealing to the student body, we have to work in small ways to decrease the divide between the arts. She was backed by Confessore, who stated that “physical engagement” could help pull departments together.