Program Notes: Children's Palace Paul Reale
Children's Palace was written in 1983 after a return from the People's Republic of China which included a concert at the Shanghai Conservatory. While visiting Shanghai, I noticed the large number of music students and was told that before entering the conservatory, many of the students learned music and other arts at "children's palaces," places of recreation and study to which the young grade school students went after school.
Upon entering I was deluged with a cacophony of musical and other sounds (including the random assault of many ping pong balls). The whole thing seemed so natural and beneficial that it touched off ideas for the piece for flute and piano. While the piece is not programatic in any sense, melodic ideas seemd to me a kind of distillation of materials heard in the Shanghai Children's Palace: snippets of pentatonic fragments blended with Franch conservatory contest pieces, vapid salon music juxtaposed with folk and avant-garde elements. It was this rich musical stew that prompted me to create this eclectic chamber work.
The piece was written for Ann La Berge, who has played it all over the world.