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placeholder April 21, 2014   •   VOL. 52, NO. 8   •   Oakland, CA

Ward Spangler provided the percussion, Rudy de Vos played the organ and Leo Keegan narrated the 30-minute performance.
CINDY CHEW/THE CATHOLIC VOICE

'Peter and the Wolf' makes some new fans

Even though many of children had been prepared for the experience, the sound of the wolf can be both eerie and a little frightening when it comes from the massive pipe organ of the Cathedral of Christ the Light.

With almost 800 children, from pre-kindergarten through fourth grade, filling the pews, along with their 200 adult chaperones, Sergei Prokofiev's tale of "Peter and the Wolf" resonated in the Cathedral of Christ the Light on April 8.

But little heads looked up and students turned to one another at the sound of the wolf that organist Rudy de Vos coaxed from the cathedral's pipe organ.

Ward Spangler provided the percussion and Leo Keegan the narration for the 30-minute performance. Although it was the third time the piece had been performed in the cathedral by the trio, it was the first time the performance had taken place on a school day. By buses, BART and parents' cars, the students came to the cathedral on a sunny day to experience the live performance, get a tour of the cathedral and, for some, stay for the 12:10 p.m. Mass.

Laura Filas prepared her kindergarteners from St. Joseph School in Fremont by reading them the story, and showing video clips.

"It's a performance, not a play," she told her students. They would expect instrumental parts and a narrator.

Two hundred students from St. Theresa School in Oakland toured the cathedral before the performance.

Keegan, director of docent and ministerial services who served as narrator for the performance, told the students that a dozen parishes were represented, as well as students from some neighboring schools.

He explained that "Peter and the Wolf" is "usually done with a full orchestra." But De Vos – with the organ keyboard moved to the front of the altar, in full view of the audience — provided the flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and organ.

At the deep, menacing sound of the wolf, little heads looked at one another.

Spangler's bass drum — the shot of the hunters — reverberated in the cathedral. Some of the young guests jumped in their seats, some even covering their ears. But that could have been all in the fun of the performance.

Some small hands clapped along with the music, heads bobbed, and there was swaying in the seats.

A "this just in" bulletin that ended the performance — in which the duck that had been swallowed by the wolf is saved by a surgeon — may have been a little artistic license, but the young fans appeared to be just fine with that.

The performance was followed by questions from the young audience members.

"It's really fun," Spangler said in response to the question about the drums. "I get to scare a lot of people."

Sabina Burns and Margret Reimers brought their enthusiastic first-graders from St. Lawrence O'Toole in Oakland. Dallas Scott, one of their students, said the performance was good.

His favorite part? "The wolf."

Catholic schools attending were St. Martin de Porres of Oakland, St. Francis of Assisi of Concord, St. Theresa of Oakland, St. Lawrence O'Toole of Oakland, Assumption of San Leandro, St. Jerome of El Cerrito, St. Joseph of Fremont, St. Paul of San Pablo, St. Joachim of Hayward, St. Leo the Great of Oakland and St. Catherine of Siena of Martinez.

Four schools stayed for the 12:10 p.m. Mass, with Assumption School providing the choir.

Father Raymond Sacca, rector of the cathedral, celebrated the Mass, and extended greetings from Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ. "He's thinking of you and praying for you," he said, "hoping you enjoy your day here at the cathedral."

 
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