Here’s the story — of ‘Peter and the Wolf’

As kids, many of us envied the maternal powers that Florence Henderson embodied as American’s favorite television mom, Carol Brady.

Who didn’t want to get tucked in by Mrs. Brady to hear a bedtime story?

San Franciscans will get the chance to experience that childhood fantasy when Henderson narrates Prokofiev’s much-loved children’s tale, “Peter and the Wolf.”

The actress, singer and arts advocate joins the San Francisco Youth Orchestra today for two afternoon concerts, which happen to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the group. One of the Bay Area’s premiere audition-only ensembles, the youth symphony’s members range from ages 11 through 20.

“I just think what a brilliant idea he had, to introduce children to classical music and different instruments simply by the way he plays it,” Henderson said, describing the composer’s intent in creating the classic piece.

Each animal Peter encounters is represented by a specific instrument. Peter is the strings section, and the bird is a flute. For those who need a refresher, things run amok when Peter accidentally leaves his grandfather’s garden gate open, and the animals on his property march into the woods, where the wolf lives.

The version being performed today features the traditional ending in which Henderson pleads for the audience’s assistance to get a poor duck out of the wolf’s belly.

“We do that by quacking real loud,” she said.

Though these performances mark the first time Henderson will narrate with a full symphony as her backdrop, she is no stranger to symphonies, especially San Francisco Symphony. She made friends with SFS a few years ago via her good pal Carol Burnett, at which time the idea to cast her as the narrator began to unfold. But a scheduling conflict delayed her debut until now.

Under the baton of her friend, conductor Benjamin Schwartz, Henderson is pleased to bring her interpretation to the famous work. But she added, “The one thing I’m most worried about is making sure I come in at the right places.”

Rounding out the program is a sing-along of beloved traditional holiday tunes.

CONCERT

Florence Henderson narrates ‘Peter and the Wolf’

Presented by: San Francisco Symphony

Where: Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco

When: 1 and 4 p.m. today

Tickets: $15 to $45

Contact: (415) 864-6000 or www.sfsymphony.org

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