Mark Ritchey

Sunday Best Producer

When I was in the fifth grade, after years of rhythm blocks, symphonettes, and auto-harps, something happened that finally got my musical attention. Our music teacher played, on a tinny portable record player, spinning at 78 R.P.M., the complete “Peter and the Wolf.”

Her goal for the day, I realize now, was simply to introduce us to the sounds made by the different instruments in the orchestra. You know, the usual “these are the strings, this is a clarinet, here is an oboe” etc. After all of these years, I don’t remember the narrator or the orchestra. But I still remember the feeling I got from the hearing the theme for the real hero of the piece, the wolf.

I didn’t care much for Peter, nor did was I much interested in the cat, or the bird, or the silly duck. But the wolf — now there was a part to be savored. I can hear the wolf theme now — powerful, smooth, untamed, intense. I wanted to become that wolf.

I went on to play the French Horn in various bands and orchestras (and occasionally I got to be the wolf) throughout junior high, high school, and college. And I bought classical records (and now CDs), and went to concerts, and supported classical music radio stations wherever I went.

And I still credit that fifth-grade experience, in the multil-purpose room of Washington Grade School, in Alva, Oklahoma, with beginning my love of classical music.

Thank you, Miss Branson, for having the wisdom to introduce me to the wolf and the richness of all classical music!

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