You need to enable JavaScript to run this app.
Orchestra Records ‘Carnival of the Animals’
Henry Zhang ’24 Staff Writer
October 31, 2020

Adhering to social distancing guidelines, donning masks, and wearing POM tracers are now required for the community’s safety and overall well-being. However, such practices complicate the question many music students have: how will orchestra work during this unconventional year? As a wide majority of students have been hoping to hear, the orchestra still hopes to continue practicing, rehearsing, and performing together. The only catch that entails with the continuation of orchestra is having to follow de-densifying protocols: performances will be accessible via recordings and videos online instead of in-person.

“This is a great opportunity for us to put in some practice, perform, and also to experience and learn more about the recording process,” said Forrest Gao ’23. 

For their first official performance of the year, the Co-Curricular Chamber Orchestra group will play and record The Carnival of the Animals (Le carnaval des animaux), including most of the 14 movements within the suite, by the French composer Camille Saint-Saëns. As the name suggests, each movement embodies the story a different animal, with various instruments imitating their sounds and characteristics. The Swan (Le cygne), arguably the best-known movement of the suite, paints an image of a swan gliding elegantly across a lake through a slow, melancholy cello melody. Pianists (Pianistes) mocks pianists as animals and mimics beginners practicing their scales. Characters with Long Ears (Personnages à longues oreilles), the shortest of the 14 movements, likens critics to donkeys using a mixture of short, high notes and long, low notes.

 Saint-Saëns had once been afraid to publish this “fun”work, fearing that the piece might damage his reputation as a serious composer (only The Swan was later published in his lifetime) and only premiered it privately. Following its posthumous publication, The Carnival of the Animals turned out to be one of  Saint-Saëns’ most successful works.

Explaining why he chose this specific work by Saint-Saëns, Director of Chamber Music and Orchestra Thomas Bergeron said, “It’s a combination of wanting to play something fun and humorous at this time and something that fits our exact instrumentation.”

A professional videographer will record the orchestra’s rendition of the work, and Mr. Bergeron will handle the audio. 

“Compared to Orchestra without COVID-19, it’s a pretty nice change to play with a smaller group every day,” said Yurok Song ’22.

In addition to The Carnival of the Animals, the performance recording will also feature Stephen Morris ’23 singing Die Forelle (The Trout) by Franz Schubert and Christopher Gergis ’22 singing All The Pretty Little Horses, a traditional lullaby arranged by Aaron Copland.

For everybody interested in listening to the orchestra’s performances, recording will be available on Deerfield’s main website as part of the performing arts showcase at the end of the fall term.