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Beethoven’s Wigfeaturing Richard Perlmutter



It didn't take long Saturday morning at the Alberta Bair Theater to figure out the Billings Symphony Orchestra's performance would be like no other.

On the audience side, the theater was packed with chattering children, some waving air batons and pretending to conduct. The scene on the stage was even more amusing, with Richard Perlmutter, half vocalist half comic, and his talented crew of classically trained vocalists using their best voices to belt out silly lyrics to the classics.

More kid-friendly

In a shift from the annual free children's concert featuring only orchestration, the BSO opted this year to bring in the award-winning Perlmutter to make the show even more kid-friendly. Eight hundred people took in the 11 a.m. show with an even bigger crowd expected at 2 p.m. Conducted by Henry Charles Smith, conductor emeritus with the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, the one-hour show featured 19 sing-along symphonies off Perlmutter's Grammy-nominated recording "Beethoven's Wig'' and its sequel "Beethoven's Wig 2.''

Having some fun

It was the first time Perlmutter performed his work live with a full symphony orchestra, and he gushed several times during his show about how much fun he was having.

"This is a moment that is so special in my life that if I don't start singing I'll start crying,'' he said before his final song.

The crowd sang, giggled and clapped along throughout the show, and when Perlmutter invited the audience to stand up and do the can-can with him, they obliged. Eaon Hanebury, 10, said it was the highlight of the show.

"I really liked it,'' Hanebury said. "It was funny.''

Hanbebury, who plays violin at Alkali Creek School where he is a fifth-grader, said he can already play "Hot Cross Buns'' and looks forward to playing more complicated pieces, like the closing piece "1812 Overture'' by Tchaikovsky.

His dad Lou, said the concert was a great way to introduce his two sons, including 8-year-old Connor, to classical music.

"That's a pretty good way to get kids interested in this type of music,'' Lou said. "We look forward to more concerts.''

Along with all the funny lyrics, Perlmutter squeezes information about the music and the composer into his songs.

Raymond Ash, 9, who came with his 14-year-old sister Monique, said he liked the classical guitar solo by former BSO board president Robert Griffin. Griffin took center stage to play "Hey Guitar Teacher,'' set to Bach's "Bouree.'' Raymond said he owns an electric guitar but doesn't yet know how to play it.

Monique said she liked the signature song, "Beethoven's Wig,'' set to Beethoven's 5th Symphony best.

"It was really funny and really good,'' she said, still chuckling as she left the theater.