Published: Oct. 26, 2017

MSU College of Music to debut "Piano Monsters" at West Circle Series

Contact(s): Michael Sundermann College of Music office: (517) 353-2043

The MSU College of Music will present Carnival of the Animals, Music of Camille Saint-Saëns, on Nov. 6 at 7:30 p.m. in MSU Auditorium’s Fairchild Theatre. This concert will feature one of Saint-Saëns’s most beloved works, accompanied by the iconic verses of poet Ogden Nash.

Composer Camille Saint-Saëns was born in Paris in 1835 and quickly became a child prodigy of the piano. By the age of 10, he was performing full piano recitals with major pieces. He studied composition at the Paris Conservatory and began to capture the attention of Berlioz, Liszt, Rossini and other notable figures.

One of Saint-Saëns most famous works is “The Carnival of the Animals.” The suite is comprised of 14 movements that depict different wild animals, including pianists. Saint Saëns wrote this piece while also working on his Third Symphony. Fearful it would ruin his reputation, he banned certain movements to be performed until after his death. Today, it is one of his most beloved and performed pieces.

In 1949, Ogden Nash wrote a set of humorous verses to accompany each movement for a Columbia Masterworks recording conducted by Andre Kostelanetz. They were recited on the original album by Noël Coward. The poems are now often included when the work is performed, usually recited before each piece. In this performance, Broadway and opera star Marc Embree will narrate the poems.

“It is very exciting to have the debut of the ‘Piano Monsters’ at West Circle Series,” said Deborah Moriarty, chair of the piano department and a resident “Piano Monster.” “The ‘monsters’ love this piece and we look forward to working with Marc Embree.”

In addition to “The Carnival of the Animals,” the performance will feature Saint-Saëns’ Clarinet Sonata and Violin Sonata.

Performers: Mingzhe Wang, clarinet; I-Fu Wang, violin; Derek Polischuk, piano; Zihua Tang, piano; Young Hyun Cho, piano; Panayis Lyras, piano; Deborah Moriarty, piano; and Marc Embree, narrator. Joanne and Bill Church sponsor the West Circle Series.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $5 for students and anyone under age 18, and can be purchased online or at the College of Music box office.

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