Arts & Entertainment: Pecos Bill musical world premiere

// Rootin’ tootin’ concert for kids plays Feb. 16

Jacobsen Junior has gone west! This winter University of Puget Sound’s annual concert for children will feature the world premiere of “Pecos Bill: A Tall Tale of the Wild West.” Everyone is welcome to this narrated musical adventure performed by a student chamber orchestra and two actors.

The performance will be held at 3 p.m. on Feb. 16 in Schneebeck Concert Hall. The Jacobsen Junior concert is the eighth organized by Grammy Award nominee Duane Hulbert, Puget Sound’s chair of piano.

“We have programmed ‘Peter and the Wolf’ for the past few years,” said Hulbert. “This year we wanted to create a fun new piece and feature an American folk hero. ‘Pecos Bill’ has all the ingredients of a great tale. It has adventure, humor, and romance.”

Other works will include Aaron Copland’s classical American delight “Billy the Kid,” Gioachino Rossini’s “William Tell Overture” (the theme from “The Lone Ranger”), William Grant Still’s Suite for Violin and Piano (3rd movement), and a brief excerpt from Ferde Grofé’s “Grand Canyon Suite.”

“Pecos Bill: A Tall Tale of the Wild West” was composed by Hulbert, with a narration written by his wife Judy Carlson Hulbert, a local theater director. Hulbert wrote the piece as part of an artist residency at the 15,000-acre Brush Creek Ranch in Wyoming this past summer. A seven-minute, condensed version was performed in September 2012 at Puget Sound’s Collage concert.

According to American folklore, Pecos Bill was born in Texas in the 1830s. He fell out of his family’s covered wagon as a babe and was raised by coyotes. When he discovered he was really a human, he decided to be the best rootin’ tootin’ cowboy in the country. He rode tornadoes, dug the Grand Canyon and Rio Grande, used a rattlesnake for a lasso and tamed wild horses. Then the beautiful redhead Slue-Foot Sue rode into his life on a catfish, and his life turned upside down.

Just as in Sergei Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” and Francis Poulenc’s “Babar,” rhythm and musical motifs are used to portray the various characters.

“’Pecos Bill’ has a distinctly American sound,” Hulbert said. “As we drove to Wyoming for the artist residency, I listened to a lot of Copland. We also bought a CD of cowboy music and listened to Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. We wanted to give kids some fun classical music with a story that is lively and humorous.”

The chamber orchestra will be conducted by Puget Sound Director of Bands Gerard Morris. Performers include Duane Hulbert, piano; Jinshil Yi, piano; Grace Youn, violin; a student brass ensemble and a chamber orchestra of Puget Sound students. Duane Hulbert will narrate Pecos Bill. Student actor Alex Adams will play Pecos Bill and Keenan Brogdon will narrate Billy the Kid.

For tickets, order online at http://tickets.pugetsound.edu, or call Wheelock Information Center at (253) 879-6013 to purchase with a credit card. Admission is $5 for children and young adults ages 5–18, $10 for adults and $25 for families of four and more. Children under 5 and University of Puget Sound students with identification enter free. Group ticket rates are available for parties of 10 or more by calling (253) 879-3555 in advance. Any remaining tickets will be available at the door.

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