Writing about Sergei Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf and Benjamin Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, Robert Croan, music critic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, stated that Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin is "worthy of a place of its own beside those two beloved classics." Another important critic, the mother of a concertgoer, wrote to the Pittsburgh Symphony about Zin!: "What a wonderful accomplishment it is to capture the attention of a three year old."
This musical work was born out of Hamlisch's awareness of the need to entice and hold young people as symphony orchestra audience members. The narrated opening of the work is, in the words of its composer, "a sort of musical show and tell," designed to teach young people about the component parts of an orchestra. The work gives the ten major orchestral instruments ample opportunity to display their virtuosity. Says Hamlisch, "I'm hoping there will be an instrument that each child will fall in love with and say, 'Oooo. I like that.'"
The center section (without narration) exploits the myriad colors and textures of the orchestra in a musical language that is at times jazzy, Bachian, Broadway and rock; it is vital, expressive, colorful, and energetic.
The closing section encourages young voices to demand an encore, returning to the tutti of the orchestra with, as Robert Croan said, "a brio that demonstrates, among other things, that symphonic music can be fun - for children and their parents."
The STRINGS all soar, the REEDS implore,
The BRASSES roar with notes galore.
It's music that we all adore,
It's what we go to concerts for.