The 21st annual Pumpkin Festival at Kidspace Children’s Museum returned this past weekend at Brookside Park in Pasadena where all children were in costume to celebrate fun fall activities and enjoy the live entertainment provided by Susan Pascale’s Los Angeles Children’s Orchestra.
Pascale, founder of Pascale Music Institute (PMI), was dressed as the Queen of Hearts and all of her student’s were in costume as well. They trailed around the booths of the park playing an introduction piece before heading onto the stage.
In 2009, The Los Angeles Children’s Orchestra set a world record for being the youngest orchestra to ever perform at Carnegie Hall and they have played there three times since. They are also one of the youngest orchestras in the country.
“My daughter was actually the inspiration for starting the program 14 years ago when I moved here from Long Island. There was no strings program here in my area of Pasadena, so I decided to teach for free to anyone willing to learn the violin,” said Pascale.
Pascale’s daughter recently graduated from The Juilliard School in New York and now PMI has a program where the kids spend a day at Juilliard and take lessons.
The Los Angeles Children’s Orchestra was honored to be on NBC’s America’s Got Talent for two rounds this past summer, where Howard Stern, a judge, called them a “fan favorite.” They received a standing ovation from the entire studio audience.
“It was a really, really amazing experience for the kids. We went through a very huge audition process,” Pascale said. “We probably shot 40 to 50 hours of film. It was a very life changing experience.”
Most of the children of the orchestra have been together from the beginning and the ages of the kids in the orchestra range from 6 to 12 years old.
“I am six. I played the cello for one and a half years,” said James of South Pasadena, who was dressed as a skeleton.
Annika Gavlak, a violinist dressed as Wednesday from the Addams Family, said, “I think I’ve been in the program for eight years, yeah. I started when I was four and half years old and I just turned 13. I’m part of the Chamber Orchestra.”
The orchestra played plenty of pieces during the pumpkin festival, including a collage of holiday music and a scary Halloween piece called “Rise of Eating Zombies.”
“If you hear a beautiful sound, it’s because the kids start very young in the program starting as young as three and a half and they stay together. We go to Disneyland, we go to Carnegie Hall, we go to Juilliard School, and we go other places, “Pascale said. “Music is hard work, but the payoff is to have fun.”