Kids sample symphonic stories

By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Children became a part of the sonic storytelling at Friday’s Tupelo Symphony performances.
The Saltillo Elementary Fifth-Grade Concert Choir opened the children’s concert with “The Star-Spangled Banner.” It was the first time the students had sung with a symphony orchestra, but the young performers said they weren’t nervous.
“It was amazing,” said choir member Jasmine McCollum.
It was challenging to sing with enough power to be heard above a symphony.
“That was completely different,” said choir member Tripp Magee.
The students worked hard to prepare for their part in the performance.
“They come to practice at 7:15 a.m. twice a week,” said choir teacher Nancy Long, whose 2009 concert choir also performed with the orchestra. “This week it was three times.”
Tupelo Symphony Orchestra Director Stephen Byess said the Saltillo choir’s performance creates an inviting atmosphere for the young audience.
“It’s nice for the kids in the audience to see kids their same age doing something on stage,” he said.
During Friday’s concerts, Byess and the orchestra took 2,700 students from 25 schools around the globe, across the solar system and into the world of magic.
Along the way, they demonstrated how Gershwin created a colorful Parisian Street, how Holst wrapped dissonant notes together to paint Mars as red planet and God of War, and how Williams used musical phrases to evoke characters and places in the Harry Potter movies.
The students got to join the performance for the finale, an excerpt from Bernstein’s “West Side Story.” Byess had the audience to put the “Mambo” in the “Mambo” song from the musical.
That was Pontotoc Elementary second-grader Rebekah Ball’s favorite part.
“I liked getting to participate,” Ball said.

Bold and brassy
– What: Tupelo Symphony Orchestra

– When: 7:30 p.m. today

– Where: Tupelo Civic Auditorium

– Tickets: $20/advance, $25/at the door,

– Info: (662) 842-8433,