The Lawrence Chamber Orchestra, like many performing arts groups, is having to face a hard fact of life: It must recruit younger people to its audiences now if the orchestra is going to be viable in the future.
So when orchestra members suggested a concert for children and their families, everyone agreed the time was right.
"It's a way to reach a new orchestra audience and to benefit kids by (their) hearing live music," Eric Williams, the orchestra's assistant conductor, said.
"Family Fantasy Concert," under the direction of conductor Juan Francisco La Manna, will be presented at 2 p.m. Oct. 22 in the Lawrence High School auditorium.
The concert will feature three works related to animals or toys.
Leopold Mozart's "Toy Symphony," featuring violins, viola, cello, bass and strings, will open the program. The toys in the piece include trumpet, drum, cuckoo, nightingale, rattle, quail and triangle.
Williams said many children are not familiar with the toy instruments of Mozart's time the 1790s.
"So (we thought) we could perform with toys of Mozart's and Haydn's day, and then do the same piece but substitute modern toys," he said. "Doug Weaver is going to be telling a story about how an orchestra produces sounds and how they are perceived as music."
Weaver, a Kansas University adjunct theater professor and professional actor who last appeared as Falstaff in University Theatre's production of "Henry IV, Part 1," will serve as narrator and storyteller for the concert.
For "Carnival of the Animals," by Camille Saint-Saens, Weaver will read Ogden Nash's poetry, which whimsically celebrates the lion, chicken, hen, turtle, elephant, kangaroo, donkey, birds, fossils, doe and swan.
The piece also will feature pianists Sara Holmberg and Kacey Link, KU string performance students and string players in the orchestra. Other instruments in the spotlight during the piece are flute, clarinet, percussion, xylophone, bells and strings.
The concert will end with F.J. Haydn's "Symphony No. 82 'The Bear'," which will be preceded by a story by Weaver. The composition was given the nickname "The Bear" because of the bear-like drone in the last movement.
The work puts the flute, oboe, bassoons, horns, harpsichord and strings in the forefront.