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Kids Commute: Celesta Week!

The inside of a celesta
The inside of a celesta

This week on Kids Commute, we’re listening to music that features the celesta, a bell-like keyboard instrument that is often associated with magical-sounding music!

It looks like a small upright piano, but is shaped like an organ and sounds like a glockenspiel...

It’s the Celesta!

This keyboard instrument’s sound is light and twinkly, soft and dainty, but also loud and piercing enough to be heard from pretty far away - which would be super important when it’s played with an orchestra!

In traditional pianos, fingers press keys that trigger little hammers inside to hit strings at different strengths, helping create both nice soft notes and really loud notes!

Inside a celesta however, these hammers hit little metal bars -kind of like a xylophone!

This week, we'll hear pieces of music that feature the celesta, including:

  • "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" from Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker"
  • "Mercury, The Winged Messenger" from Gustav Holst's "The Planets"
  • An excerpt from George Gershwin's "An American in Paris"
  • "On The Trail" from Ferde Grofe's "Grand Canyon Suite"
  • "Hedwig's Theme" from John Williams' score to "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"
KC Celesta Week! - MONDAY: 'Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy'
from 'The Nutcracker', by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, performed by the Berlin Philharmonic
KC Celesta Week! - TUESDAY: 'Mercury, The Winged Messenger'
from 'The Planets,' by Gustav Holst, performed by the Berlin Philharmonic
KC Celesta Week! - WEDNESDAY: 'An American in Paris' (excerpt)
by George Gershwin, performed by the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Leonard Bernstein
KC Celesta Week! - THURSDAY: 'On The Trail'
from 'The Grand Canyon Suite,' by Ferde Grofe, performed by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra
KC Celesta Week! - FRIDAY: 'Hedwig's Theme'
by John Williams performed by the London Symphony Orchestra

More from Kids Commute:

Kate Botello is a host and producer at Classical IPR.
Emily Duncan Wilson is IPR's digital content manager and is the producer of "Classical Sprouts" and "Kids Commute".