By Margie Doyle
“Carnival of the Animals” highlighted with two pianos and children’s poet at Chamber Music Festival’s Concert on the Village Green
The Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival is partnering with the public library to make sure the encore presentation of the wildly popular “Concert on the Village Green,” first observed at the 2007 Festival, is again the hit of the summer.
This year, “Carnival of the Animals” with the Miró Quartet and Jack Prelutsky on the Stage at the Village Green is organized — in partnership with the Miró Quartet, the Orcas Island Library District, Orcas Island School District, Orcas Island Senior Services, Orcas Island Public Library, Deer Harbor Community Club, West Sound Community Club, Olga Community Club, and Islands Symphonia — with support from the Chamber Music America Endowment Fund.
The 14-piece suite by Camille Saint-Saëns is the centerpiece of the free outdoor concert, “A Musical Carnival!” on Sunday, August 19. It will be performed by both Jon Kimura Parker and Orli Shaham on two pianos and narrated by noted children’s poet Jack Perlutsky.
In preparation for “A Musical Carnival!” the Orcas Island Public Library is incorporating “Carnival of the Animals” by Camille Saint-Saëns in its Thursday morning story times and the ever-popular pajama storytimes.
“We’re a natural ally to collaborate with the Chamber Music Festival,” says Children’s Librarian Nita Couchman. She has expanded the half-hour storytime to one hour, in which crafts and music are linked to “Carnival of the Animals” and Prelutsky’s poetry based on that work.
In preparation for the Chamber Festival concerts, the summer Reading Club at the Public Library features Camille Saint-Saëns’s The Carnival of the Animals. Thursday Story times have been increased from a half-hour to an hour, and Children’s Librarian Nita Couchman organizes various craft activities for children to undertake while listening to the Saint- music and Prelutsky’s rhymes. Those who wish to take part in the library children’s program are welcome to come to Storytime at 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Thursday mornings at the Public Library, or call 376-4985.
Prelutsky is “an awesome children’s poet; he has a wonderful sense of playing with words,” says Nita. He is a good ambassador for children’s poetry because he makes it fun. When he makes you laugh out loud, you may try more poetry.
“And it’s the same with the music — to imagine a lion’s roar and hear it in the music.” Couchman uses Prelutsky’s 2010 book of verse, Camille Saint-Saëns’s The Carnival of the Animals, illustrated by Mary GrandPré, which includes a CD of the music as performed by the Württenberg Chamber Orchestra. The book/cd is available for checkout at the public library and is also available at Darvill’s Bookstore.
Saint-Saëns only allowed his composition to be performed twice in his lifetime (once for his friend Franz Liszt), fearing that the humor and lightness of the piece might hurt his reputation as a serious composer. Probably best known is “The Swan” composed for cello. However, much of this work has been widely heard in popular renditions:
- Fantasia 2000, where a flock of flamingos frantickly frolic to Carnival’s “Finale;”
- the mysterious, silvery “Aquarium” is featured in the films The Godfather Part II, Babe, Charlotte’s Web and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and on television in “The Simpsons” and “How I Met Your Mother” and was used by Kylie Minogue as part of the opening sequence of her Aphrodite World Tour;
- “The Swan” in the film My Summer of Love and the video game “Burnout Paradise”; and at Epcot’s Showcase of Nations in the film “Impressions de France;”
- “Royal March of the Lion” was used as the musical motif for the Dreyfus Fund television commercials.
The free concert on the Village Green is “a big starting point for many at OICMF,” says the Festival’s Executive Director Victoria Parker. It is estimated that 1,000 people attended the 2007 outdoor concert.
In addition to The Carnival of Animals centerpiece, the full concert on the Village Green, “A Musical Carnival!” includes a mix of classical, chamber and popular music:
- Mozart’s Finale from the Concerto for two pianos,
- Excerpts from Piazzolla’s The Four Seasons
- Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltzes (sung by the Orcas Choral Society and directed by Roger Sherman)
- Broadway Show tunes
Also featured in the program are Chee-Yun, violinist and Rod Gilfry, baritone. Guest artists will also include every performer on-island who is part of the 2012 Chamber Music Festival in the OICMF Chamber Orchestra conducted by Adam Stern.
Besides the fabulous music, just transporting and installing two grand pianos on the Stage at the Village Green in itself will be an impressive undertaking. Rich Chinn, who so successfully reproduced the 2007 Village Green performance, will again be in charge of the sound production at this year’s outdoor concert.
For tickets and more information about other 2012 Chamber Music Festival events, go to www.oicmf.org, or call 376-6636 or toll free 866-492-0003.