A New Father, Pianist Plans Concert For Kids

Provided By Janet Gramza Marino
PULASKI – Pianist Rob Auler brings a love of music to everything he does – so after becoming music director at Pulaski Congregational Church, Auler – a professor of piano at SUNY Oswego – founded a concert series to bring world-class classical music performances to Pulaski.

The series, named for the late music teacher Rhea LaVeck, has held five concerts a year since 2008.

Pianist Rob Auler
Pianist Rob Auler

Six months ago, Auler became a father with the birth of daughter, Katherine Shelley Auler, to him and his wife, Tara.

That’s what inspired him to plan the LaVeck series’ first concert aimed at children for May 27 at 3 p.m. at the church, 27 Lake St., Pulaski.

Auler’s “Scenes from Childhood” concert will introduce kids of all ages to pieces by Mozart, Robert Schumann and Francis Poulenc that appeal to children, and adding art, acting, balloons and ice cream to create a fun, family event for all.

Auler will invite kids to sing the “ABCs” and then perform the inspiration for the song, Mozart’s “Twinkle, Twinkle Variations.”

He’ll get artistic help from Oswego artist Bill DeForest as he performs Schumann’s “Scenes from Childhood,” 13 short pieces that each paint a scene.

Kids will be invited to draw with DeForest to illustrate what they imagine the music portrays.

Finally, Syracuse actor and drama teacher Gerard Moses will narrate “The Story of Babar” to music composed by Francis Poulenc.

“I’ve always loved kids and have wanted to do something artistically relating to them. But, in the last six months, this plan has become more immediate,” Auler said. “I’ve done a lot of thinking about how we model for our kids – what we expose them to – and I think back to my time growing up in Champaign, Ill., on the campus of the University of Illinois. I remember my mom bringing me to the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and hearing the “greats,” Murray Perahia, John Browning … This had a huge impact on me as I developed as a musician. Even though Pulaski is a smaller place than where I grew up, I still truly believe that we have to expose our kids to a lot and then see which direction that takes them. And we can do that in a fun, relaxed way….so that’s really the idea behind this program.”

Auler said each piece has special meaning to him and others.

“The Mozart variations will be recognizable to all parents as ‘Twinkle Twinkle,’ or ‘The Alphabet Song.’ In truth, though, this was one of Mozart’s compositions taken from a French melody from the 1760s, which has since been repurposed in the education and entertainment of many kids! I guess it’s a kind of mystery: would kids be learning their ABCs to this melody if Mozart hadn’t stolen the French melody?” he said.

Auler called the Schumann piece “incredibly beautifu1” – 13 vignettes that are remembrances from Schumann’s own childhood.

“There is an unbelievably beautiful YouTube video that I’ve been watching featuring Vladimir Horowitz as an old man, live, from Vienna. Watching this legendary pianist in the last years of his career perform this beautiful, naïve, child-inspired work has been an artistic signpost for me. I’ve always wanted to do this piece, and I guess my daughter is the ‘excuse,’” he said.

Auler also wanted to work with Gerard Moses on “Babar.”

“He is an amazing guy and I know kids and parents alike will love his rendition of the narrated portion of this solo piano and spoken word piece,” Auler said.

The concert will run about an hour and will be followed by an ice cream social courtesy of Stewart’s Shops.

There will be a suggested donation at the door to help with expenses, “but the concert is designed for everyone in the community to enjoy and all are welcome regardless of whether they make a donation or not,” Auler said.