Phil Burkhart: ASO opens season on Oct. 30

Published 5:39 pm Friday, October 21, 2022

The Austin Symphony will be performing its first concert of the season at 2 p.m. on Oct. 30 at Knowlton Auditorium in Austin High School.

It is a true family concert we are calling “Puppets and Princesses.” The performance opens with the “Overture to Prince Igor” by Alexander Borodin. This is a grand opening, full of beautiful melodies and energetic rhythms.

This is followed by one of the great works of the 20th century — the ballet “Petruschka” by Russian composer Igor Stravinsky. It is the story of three puppets who are brought magically to life by their master, the Magician, during a performance at a county fair. The puppets are called (in our version) Petrushka, the Ballerina and the Inigo (Pirate). Of course, coming to life means they now have human feelings which leads to competition between Petruschka and Inigo for the Ballerina’s affections. I don’t want to give away the ending except to say that is does involve, among other things, a dancing bear.

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In order to adapt the story to modern sensibilities we asked writer Tim Brennan to write a poetic script to accompany the music which will be narrated by Austin’s own Lisa Deyo. And instead of a ballet troupe we are having the Matchbox Children’s Theater, directed by Angela Donovan, mime the action on stage. The music is full of wonderful Russian folk and dance tunes set in modern arrangements. It is mysterious, exciting and always fun to listen to. (You may even feel like dancing in the aisles.) This is the first time we have performed this great piece and we are so excited to share it with you.

The second half is dedicated to the princess theme. It opens with the exotic “Overture to the Asian Princess” by Camille Saint-Saens. Then Morgan Dickman, a local teacher and performer, will sing some of Disney’s favorite Princess songs accompanied by the orchestra. They include “Part of Your World” from “The Little Mermaid,” “Colors of the Wind” from “Pocahontas,” “Reflection” from “Mulan,” and “A Whole New World” from “Aladdin.” Some of the most beautiful music has been written for Disney films. We know you will enjoy it.  The concert ends with the rousing “Overture to Beauty and the Beast.” Great music, great entertainment.

In addition to this concert, the Symphony will be performing two youth concerts for all of the fourth through sixth grades in Austin and surrounding communities. We expect over 2,000 children to attend as part of our educational outreach. They will learn about the orchestra and its instruments and how to listen to this great music. They will also see how orchestras can play a great variety of music, from Stravinsky to Disney, and, in the process, express a great variety of feelings. Hopefully many will be motivated to either start an instrument or improve their playing skills.

Deyo is a native of Austin and a graduate of Austin High School and Riverland College. After more than 30 years teaching elementary school in Austin she opened Sweet Reads Bookstore in downtown Austin. She is very active in local theater and has performed with the Austin Symphony both as a narrator and a violinist.

Dickman moved to Austin eight years ago from her hometown of Blue Earth and immediately got involved in the arts. Her love of music and theater has led to her involvement in Summerset and Riverland Theatre productions, Morgan and Friends and the Austin Symphony Chorus and Orchestra. She loves that Austin is a vibrant arts community.

Tickets for this concert and for our next concert on Dec. 11 featuring  Mike Veldman and Friends, are available for $20 if purchased before the concert or $25 if purchased at the door. Admission is free for youth through college age.  Tickets are sold at Coffee House On Main, Hy-Vee or online at Or you can call 507-460-3678 for tickets or information.