Hundreds of grammar school students from throughout Northeast Mississippi squirmed and chatted while members of the Tupelo Symphony Orchestra tuned their instruments on stage.
The chatter ended when the lights dimmed and the music started.
It didn’t take long for 8-year-old Camryn Cox, a third-grader at Lawhon Elementary, to unleash her inner conductor. She matched the moves of TSO musical director Steven Byess during Andrew Boysen’s “Kirkpatrick Fanfare” and Claude Debussy’s “Girl With Flaxen Hair.”
But those weren’t her favorite songs.
“I liked it when he played on the electric guitar,” she said. “I mean electric violin.”
She was referring to world-class violinist Alexander Markov, who injected a little rock ’n’ roll into the classical music program.
After Markov jammed on his custom-made violin, he pushed the production values higher by turning out the lights.
“I liked it because of the glow stick things,” said Miles Robinson, a 7-year-old home-schooled student. He was referring to Markov’s lighted bow.
Most of the concert featured classical music, and Markov also performed Camille Saint Saens’ “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso” on a traditional violin.
Octavian Lockridge, 7, a second-grader at Church Street Elementary School, said the show was his first classical concert, as well as his first rock ’n’ roll show.
Markov said he realized the music was new for the kids, and that may have added a tiny bit of pressure.
“I like the idea of that fresh experience. That’s what’s so exciting with kids,” the Russian native said. “They say the first experience is special, so I tried to do my best.”
At the end of the concert, cheers rang off the walls at the Civic Auditorium, then the chatter resumed. They’re kids, after all.