Ashforth Concert Series Presents a Classical Music Concert for Children Based on Babar the Elephant on January 5
On Sunday, January 5 at 2 p.m., Greenwich Library's Ashforth Children's Concert Series will present Francis Poulenc's Story of Babar the Elephant, for piano and narrator, with words by author Jean de Brunhof. The concert is part of the Curiosity Concerts Series for children and will be held in the Cole Auditorium.
Musical lore has it that one day in 1940, French composer Francis Poulenc was working on his signature atonal music. His young cousin, Sophie, did not appreciate his musical style. She placed her copy of The Story of Babar the Little Elephant upside down on the piano's music stand and said, "Play this." Poulenc improvised an accompaniment to each scene and Sophie was thrilled.
According to Dr. Daniel Goodman, a pianist who studied physics and music at Princeton and MIT, and is a contributor to PianoSociety.com, Poulenc uses various devices to color scenes from Babar's life. Slow, low piano tones suggest lumbering elephants; high staccato notes, the call of birds. Use of the sustain pedal blurs the scene like a jungle mist.
Poulenc's approach, says Goodman, uses mostly color (timbre and tone quality), rather than melody to illustrate the story. This is in contrast to Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, in which every animal had a distinctive theme. Goodman encourages us to listen carefully for Poulenc's themes, which are more challenging to identify than Prokofiev's. For example, Babar's joyful opening theme returns sadly when he remembers his mother. And his mother's lullaby reappears loudly when the elephant mothers search for their children.
Pianist Jeewon Park will present this delightful piece, accompanied by Benjamin Luxon as narrator. Bring your copy of Babar and follow along!
Praised for her "deeply reflective" playing (Indianapolis Star), Korean-born pianist Jeewon Park came to the U.S. in 2002, after having won all of the major competitions in Korea. She has performed in such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Hall, 92nd Street Y, and Philadelphia Museum of Art. Park is a graduate of The Juilliard School and Yale University, where she was awarded the Dean Horatio Parker Prize. www.jeewonpark.com.
Baritone Benjamin Luxon is an esteemed opera, concert and Lieder singer who has appeared with all the major orchestras in the USA. In Europe, he has sung at the Geneva Opera and as Don Giovanni at Berne, as well as being a regular visitor in Munich and Vienna. A distinguished concert artist, his repertoire ranges from the standard literature to folk songs. In 1986 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
The Ashforth Concert Series is designed to introduce children to classical music performance. The concert is open to the public at no charge through the support of Georgie and Henry A. Ashforth. Curiosity Concerts is a new series of classical music concerts for families with children ages 5-8 years old and their interested siblings of any age. The concerts are performed by professional national and local musicians and presented at various venues in the Greenwich, CT area. The series is a coalition effort launched in association with the Greenwich Arts Council. For more information, visit www.curiosityconcerts.org, or contact the Greenwich Library Public Relations Office at (203) 622-7965.
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