Top Five Mascots in Classical Music

Friday, May 10, 2013

Fiddlesticks, the Pittsburgh Symphony's mascot with conductor Lawrence Loh Fiddlesticks, the Pittsburgh Symphony's mascot with conductor Lawrence Loh

Googly eyed fuzzy figures aren’t just for sports fans and Comic Con attendees. Symphonies, opera companies and record stores have cute mascots to help win over admirers, especially the young ones. Check out our favorite five.

1. Palm Beach Opera's The Great Poochini

Originally the protagonist of a Gary Clement picture book, The Great Poochini was adopted by the Palm Beach Opera as its official mascot. The top hat- and tails-wearing canine presides over educational events and often makes trips to area schools to share his love for opera. We imagine he’s particularly fond of works by his famous namesake.

2. North Carolina Symphony’s Sympson

Sympson, the North Carolina Symphony’s baton-wielding bluebird, claims to have been born in the ensemble’s Meymandi Concert Hall, grew up with a desire to create beautiful music. He shares his preferences on the website: he’s partial to conducting, the piccolo and works by Otto Respighi. He also answers questions about classical music—as well as other things—from children on his website.

3. Nipper the RCA dog

Nipper the RCA dog, was a rare live mascot—and an early one at that—in the classical world. Adopted by the painter Francis Barraud, Nipper became the artist’s muse for Barraud’s painting, His Master’s Voice (below). Barraud tried to sell the image of the dog looking into the bell of a phonograph to the Edison, which declined the offer. It was then purchased by the Gramophone Company, after Barraud agreed to swap in their music player into the work. Nipper still exists as the mascot of British retailer HMV, and at RCA, where he was joined by the younger Chipper in 1990.

4. San Antonio Symphony's Count Bassie

The San Antonio Symphony has been breathing life into music with programs like an instrument petting zoo—where children get to touch the instruments—as well as with an ambulatory and mustachioed double bass named Count Bassie. The Count often makes appearances at the symphony’s family concerts.

5. Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's Fiddlesticks

Fiddlesticks, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s distinguished-looking feline fiddler, is more than a mascot. With a series named in his honor, he is considered the ensembles musical ambassador to children. Though he’s serious about his music, he’s not above some fun. For his birthday last month, he celebrated with classical chestnuts by Saint-Säens, face painting and cotton candy.

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