Last summer CIPC’s ArtsConnect program worked with several community organizations to present two free community performances of Camille Saint-Saëns’ very child-friendly Carnival of the Animals. This spring the fun will continue at the Rainey Institute, a Cleveland institution that has been providing the community with education and programing in the performing and visual arts for more than 100 years.
Saint-Saëns composed Carnival of the Animals while on holiday in 1886. The piece is written for two pianos and an orchestra, and has fourteen movements that use sounds created by the instruments to mimic the sounds of animals. The composer viewed the work as a bit of fun, adamantly insisting that it not be performed in public until after his death in order to not detract from what he considered his more serious work. In 1922, just four months after his death, Carnival of the Animals was given its public debut in Paris. It has since become one of one of Saint-Saëns’ most enduring and popular works.
The performance at the Rainey Institute will consist of a special two-piano arrangement performed by ArtsConnect musicians. Rainey Institute students will perform a limited number of the orchestral parts on stringed instruments. Simultaneously, more students will act out the animal parade using hand-painted masks, while others recite rhymes written to accompany the music by Jack Prelutsky, America’s first Children’s Poet Laureate. The entire concert, characterized by humor, fun, and flights of fancy, lasts just 25 minutes.
Sophié van der Westhuizen, Director of the ArtsConnect program, explained that the student musicians are all participants in the Rainey Institute’s El Sistema program, which is led by Courtney Watson. “El Sistema is a music learning program founded in Venezuela more than 30 years ago to help disadvantaged children,” van der Westhuizen said. “It has since spread worldwide, helping to effect social change through community engagement and music learning.”
The concert will be held at the Rainey Institute on Friday, April 15 at 5:15 pm. It is free and open to the public and families with children of all ages are welcome and encouraged to attend.