Viola Davis Shines as Narrator in 'Peter and the Wolf' with LA Phil

by Kevin Taft

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday July 21, 2021

Viola Davis
Viola Davis  (Source:LA Philharmonic)

The Hollywood Bowl's classical Thursdays added something special this past week with the addition of Oscar nominee Viola Davis. No, she isn't joining the orchestra, but instead, narrating the oft-told and performed tale of "Peter and the Wolf" by Sergei Prokofiev.
 
Composed as a children's theater piece for orchestra and narrator in 1936, the music has been used in various films and TV series, not to mention a famous Disney animated short. Using different instruments to represent the different characters of the story., the composition excels at introducing children to musical instruments and the concept of character's melodious themes.
 
With the energetic and commanding Viola Davis telling the story, it was easy to be enraptured by the tale and the score, beautifully conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.
 
The night opened with a first act that included Prokofiev's "Symphony No. 1 — Classical," the incredibly cinematic "Montgomery Variations" composed by Margaret Bonds as a tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. Bonds, whose work is now being discovered and performed after her death, has never heard "Variations" performed live. The LA Philharmonic did her proud.
 
It was followed by Duke Ellington's "Three Black Kings: Martin Luther King."
 
"Peter and the Wolf Narrated by Viola Davis" played the Hollywood Bowl Thursday July 15th. For information about upcoming events at the Hollywood Bowl, visit www.hollywoodbowl.org.

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to 'Star Wars' and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg.