Musical Neophytes One Moment, Full-Fledged Composers the Next

All are welcome to attend the first of this season’s new Community Concerts for Kids series.

Many of the youngsters (along with their families and friends) who attended Musica Reginae Productions’ “Stories Through Music & Song” last Saturday at The Church-in-the-Gardens in Forest Hills, surely came away with a new appreciation for the wide world of music. The first of this season’s new Community Concerts for Kids series, the event brought out dozens of children, and proved equally satisfying for the adults who accompanied them. Best described as an interactive piano performance featuring a half dozen musical selections culled primarily from the classical repertoire, the hour-long concert took on an informal feel from the outset, with MRP’s executive and artistic director, Barbara Podgurski, fellow pianist and educator Beata Moon and lyric soprano Ashley Renee Watkins each displaying a welcoming way with their audience.

            The children freely interacted with the artists, calling out responses to their questions: What is opera? What kinds of songs are there? What different moods can songs express?  At the end, a few found their way to the piano, some of them tickling the ivories, perhaps for the first time in their lives.

            From lullabies and the ever-popular round, “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” to “Witness!” an African-American spiritual, the concert covered a wide variety of musical styles. Included were works by the likes of Richard Strauss, Frederic Chopin, Charles Gounod and Richard Wagner, whose “The Ride of the Valkyries” allowed Podgurski and Moon to team up for a piano duet.

            The highlight came near the end, when the audience was asked to collectively help in the composition of a new song. It was decided that it would be in operatic style; the chosen theme was love. One youngster in the crowd contributed the opening lyric: “I have my brother and I love him very much.” From there, a new song was born, set to an impromptu melody by Moon. Led by Watkins, the tune turned into a dramatic operatic aria, with an audience sing-along bringing the concert to a memorable conclusion.

                        —Excerpt from the review by Mark Lord in

                                 The Queens Chronicle

Three additional performances in the Community Concerts for Kids series are set for March 17, April 14 and May 5, at Queens locations to be announced. Each concert begins at 11 am and runs approximately 60 minutes. All are free. For more information call   (718) 894-2178 or go to the website

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