Ode to Grandparents


An event Sunday will benefit Valley families in two ways: It will acknowledge the importance of grandparents and provide music by Mozart.

The occasion is a performance by the Symphony in the Glen, the 40-piece professional orchestra that presents free outdoor concerts of classical music in the quaint "Old Zoo" picnic area in Griffith Park, overlooking Glendale.

A special feature event at the concert will be the debut performance of "The Grandparent Song" by an onstage chorus of 9- to 13-year-olds.

"Let's sing a song to Grandma" is an idea that earlier this year popped into the head of Arthur B. Rubinstein, music director and co-founder of Symphony in the Glen. He had decided to conduct a program of Mozart music for the September performance when someone reminded him that Sept. 13 is National Grandparents Day.

"So I asked myself what we could do to honor grandparents that day," he said.

The result is that this year, the two-decades-old national event, set by President Carter to be observed each Sunday after Labor Day, will be the subject of a set of lyrics by Rubinstein, sung to a melody from "La ci darem la mano," a duet from Mozart's "Don Giovanni."

"The Grandparents Song" has been adopted by the National Grandparents Day Coordinating Committee, based in Chula Vista, as the official song for the 20th anniversary of the observance.

A specially organized chorus of youngsters, including Jessica McQuade, granddaughter of Grandparents Day founder Marian McQuade, has been rehearsing the song for weeks.

The lyrics will be printed in the free program available at the concert Sunday. As for the tune--which many will recognize--everybody will be able join in singing after the kids have sung one verse.

For those unfamiliar with the observance's history, it began shortly after Marian McQuade, a champion of senior health issues--especially the condition of lonely elderly in nursing homes--became a delegate to the historic White House Conference on Aging.

The observance's official purpose is "To honor grandparents, to give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children's children and to help children become aware of the strength, information and guidance older people can offer."

An outdoor concert provides a fitting setting for such a family observance. For five years, family groups, ranging from infants to grandparents, have flocked to these events.

"To many people who are on an entry level to classical music," said Rubinstein, "it's an opportunity to [enjoy music] in an open space with a picnic basket, without having to get duded up and go into a darkened hall and worry about kids' decorum." Once, he said, when there was a temporary change of venue to Hanson Dam Park, 8,000 people showed up.

Sunday's concert will also include Mozart's Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra, Symphony No. 2 and arias from "Cosi Fan Tutte" and "The Marriage of Figaro." The concert will be preceded by Rubinstein's popular children's program in which kids conduct the orchestra.


Symphony in the Glen, "National Grandparents Day Concert," Sunday, children's activities including kids as conductors, 1:30-2:30 p.m.; all-Mozart concert including "The Grandparents Song" debut from 3-5 p.m. Free. Griffith Park's "Old Zoo" picnic area; free parking near merry-go-round at 4800 Crystal Springs Drive; (213) 955-6976.

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