Puppets and Pianist: Orion Weiss, Salzburg Marionettes in WPA Concert

The pianist Orion Weiss, the 2010 Classical Recording Foundation Young Artist of the Year, will have an unusual partner in his Washington Performing Arts concert at the Kennedy Center in the Terrace Theater Nov. 11.

In addition to performing three Schumann pieces—“Papillons,” “Blumenstuck, Op.19” and “Novellette, Op. 21, No. 8”—he also has DeBussy’s “La boite a joujoux (“The Toy Box”) as the centerpiece of his concert.

His creative partner in the concert will be something you might have coming out of a toy box, the renowned Salzburg Marionettes, one of the oldest marionette companies in the world, founded in 1913 in Mozart’s birthplace.

The company—it has its own puppet version of “The Sound of Music,” for one thing—is noted for its performances with live musical accompaniment. Still, a solo artist taking on puppets is rare—Andras Schiff has also done it.

The presence of the famed marionette company is part of a special program by Washington Performing Arts, saluting puppetry called “Welcome to Mars: A Salute to D.C. Puppetry”.

There was a community puppetry building event at the Brookland Farmer’s Market Nov. 8 as well as a D.C. Puppet Slam with Washington and Baltimore area puppeteers at Bus Boys & Poets at 5th and K Streets Nov. 10..

Featured area puppetry artists included puppeteers Schroeder Cherry, DinoRock Productions, Don Becker, Katherine Fahey, the Puppet Company, the Black Cherry Puppet Theater, Blue Sky Puppet Theater and Pointless Theater.

It’s under the umbrella of the Mars Urban Arts Initiative, created by Washington Performing Arts with the support of Jacqueline Badger Mars and Mars, Incorporated. The Initiative works to fuel joint planning between WPA and grassroots neighborhood arts makers, local business, local arts institutions and local residents.

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