A sea of smiling young faces filled the USC Aiken Etherredge Center on Sunday afternoon as part of the audience gazing intently at the musicians composing the Orchestra of the Midlands.

The Aiken Performing Arts Group presented “Peter & the Wolf,” providing those in attendance with an introduction to classical music.

Before the performance, the Suzuki Strings Symphony of Augusta entertained the audience in the lobby of the Etherredge Center, giving some of the children their initial exposure to what would be an afternoon of musical enchantment.

The program featured a three-pronged approach as the Orchestra of the Midlands, under the direction of conductor Maestro Donald Portnoy, engaged the listeners.

The narration of Dr. Fred Andrea served as a complement to a timeless story, and the illustrations of Carrie Power gave the audience a colorful visual in capturing the audience’s imagination.

Power, who teaches at the East Aiken Elementary School of the Arts, was invited last year by APAG to participate in the same performance.

“I wanted to get more involved with the arts community in Aiken,” said Power, who has been an elementary school art teacher for 22 years. “It sounded like a fun opportunity. I’m used to working with children, and this was a natural fit for me. I actually do this lesson with my students at school.

“We talk about my job as an illustrator, and how authors write the words and tell a story. Artists tell stories through their pictures. Musicians and composers tell stories through music.”

The program kept the young people occupied as their focus was fixed on the stage, providing an experience in a spellbinding atmosphere.

The orchestra welcomed the audience on the stage after the performance.

“People don’t realize that they’re around classical music everyday,” said Portnoy. “You turn on a TV and watch a movie – it’s classical music. You go to the market and hear classical music. You go into the elevator and hear music. It does a great deal for young people to be involved with learning music. It really makes a big difference.”

Student Elena Guy, a flutist, said she listened intently to flutist Alexandra Massey, whose instrument acted as that of the bird during the performance.

Sunday’s program gave young people a chance to listen to classical music and develop an interest, Massey said.

“In today’s society, people don’t know a lot of classical works,” said Massey. “I think it’s important to encourage that with young kids. They should go to the symphony, go to concerts, have an interest in the arts and play the instruments.”