A Sorrowful Serenade 

If you are the sort of person who is attracted to entertainment that is uplifting and which doesn't leave audiences feeling utterly hopeless, then it's very likely that you are also the sort of person who would be better off avoiding the Memphis Symphony Orchestra's performance of Lemony Snicket: The Composer Is Dead, on Sunday, September 23rd, at the Cannon Center. Created by composer Nathaniel Stookey (who is very much alive) and author Lemony Snicket, whose children's stories are famous for their comic morbidity, the concert promises a poor prelude, a meandering mid-section, and an ending that is so horrific it makes the sad life of Snicket's famous Baudelaire children seem positively gay by comparison.

Like Prokofiev's Peter & the Wolf and Britten's The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, The Composer Is Dead is designed to introduce young listeners to the sound and personality of various instruments in the orchestra. But unlike the Prokofiev or the Britten compositions, the Snicket/Stookey collaboration teaches us that while first-chair violins tackle all the difficult music, second-chair violins are more fun at parties.

Playhouse on the Square's Michael Detroit narrates the pitiful piece, while David Loebel conducts.

Pre-concert events include what is described as "crime-stopping fun" with the Memphis Police Department. Remember, you have been warned.

"Lemony Snicket: The Composer Is Dead," Sunday, September 23rd, 2:30 p.m. Pre-concert activities start at 1:15 p.m. At the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts. $9-$18.

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