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The Next Movement

Little Orchestra Society keeps up.

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Mister Maestro and the Lolli-Pops, from Peter and the Wolf.  

Sixty years into its history, the Little Orchestra Society has a reputation for utter consistency—this week’s performance is a bedrock staple, Peter and the Wolf—and, suggests music director Dino Anagnost, a bit of a shake-up is in order. After all, taking liberties to make classical music into preschool-friendly fare has always been the company’s recipe for success. So lately, as classical audiences get smaller, Anagnost is actively pursuing innovations to bring in new concertgoers. Most obviously, he’s dropped ticket prices for two years in a row and is hoping to lower them even more next season. He’s deploying high-tech tricks, like playing classical music from cell-phone ringtones. (“What we’re fighting right now is the iPod,” he says.) He’s also tried a venue change, to NYU’s Skirball Center, though the orchestra’s headed back to Lincoln Center next year. Anagnost says he’s even open to fresh presentation ideas, like a stage full of puppets. But the biggest trick of all is also the orchestra’s old-reliable maneuver: editing the scary parts, so as not to set young concertgoers screeching, and softening the darkness of Peter’s final scenes. “I believe in happy endings,” he says. “What can I tell you?”

3/10 at 10:30 a.m. and noon, 3/11 at 1 and 2:30 p.m.; Hunter College, Kaye Playhouse, 68th St. and Lexington Ave. (212-971-9500 or littleorchestra.org); $40.


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