Come as early as 6:30 PM to check out the current exhibition. Purchase tickets here.
The Carnival of the Animals is a musical suite composed by the French composer Camille Saint-Saëns. It comprises 14 separate pieces, each one suggesting a particular animal. It has become one of the most popular pieces in history, often serving as an introduction for young audiences to Classical music. David Gonzalez’s original free-verse poetry brings a fresh, modern perspective on Saint-Saëns’ music.
The French composer Camille Saint-Saëns wrote the Carnival of the Animals (Le carnaval des animaux) while on vacation, for a rag-tag student orchestra. He considered the piece frivolous, but it was an instant hit. He therefore banned performances of it and did not allow his publisher to release it during his lifetime (except for one piece that became an instant classic – the Swan). Only after his death was the entire suite published.
When it was finally published, it appeared in multiple forms: the original version for 11 instruments, for full orchestra, for 2 pianos, for 1 piano-4 hands, and for solo piano.
The version Frederic Chiu is playing is for solo piano. Because of the difficulty for the solo pianist playing the parts of 11 instruments at the same time, it turns a piece that might be frivolous into something much more virtuosic and, at the same time, more personal and touching.
About Frederic Chiu:
Frederic Chiu performs in major venues on five continents, such as Lincoln Center in New York, the Kennedy Center in Washington, The Chatelet in Paris, or the Mozarteum in Buenos Aires, and extensive tours in smaller and unusual venues. He collaborates with Classical music friends Joshua Bell, Pierre Amoyal, Gary Hoffman and the St Lawrence String Quartet, as well as non-Classical friends like jazz pianist Bob James, writer/storyteller David Gonzalez, Shakespearean actor Brian Bedford, and the clown Buffo, trying to bring the vivid live concert experience to as many people as possible. He has worked with conductors such as Christoph Campestrini, John Nelson, Stefan Sanderling, Rodolfo Fischer, Susan Haig, Bernhard Klee, Xian Zhang and Alexander Titov.
Among his recital programs, Frederic Chiu presents “Classical Smackdown,” an on-going series where composers face off in head-to-head comparisons, with listeners voting for their favorite composer. After his first successful Smackdown between Debussy and Prokofiev, he presented Bach vs. Philip Glass, with results tracked at ClassicalSmackdown.com. The latest installment: Young Geniuses Smackdown between Mendelssohn and Chopin before the age of 20.
Frederic Chiu has released over 30 recordings, including the most extensive complete piano works of Prokofiev, works of Chopin, Liszt, Ravel, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Schubert, Rossini and Grieg, as well as the Beethoven/Liszt Symphony V and VII, and the solo piano version of Carnival of the Animals. His recent projects include “Hymns and Dervishes,” music of Gurdjieff/de Hartmann, “Distant Voices: Piano music of Claude Debussy & Gao Ping” and Schubert Fantasy for Violin and Piano with William Harvey. He is a regular on St. Paul Sunday and Performance Today, and a favorite of public radios across the country.
Chiu’s teaching program Deeper Piano Studies – a philosophic and holistic approach to piano playing – has been featured at the Juilliard School, Indiana University’s Jacob School of Music, the Manhattan School of Music, the New England Conservatory, the Banff Centre and most of the National Conservatories in China. He currently teaches at both Carnegie Mellon University and The Hartt School in Hartford, CT.
With his wife, Jeanine Esposito, Chiu is the co-founder and artistic director of Beechwood Arts and Innovation in Connecticut, focused on the crossroads between art, innovation and transformation. His efforts to promote music coincide with his desire to foster peace and understanding, recently recognized by a Senatorial Commendation from the United States Congress. He has been, for more than 35 years, a Yamaha artist, and has explored the integration of their instruments ranging from the highest-quality acoustic to the purely digital, and all the different hybrid combinations in between.
David is the recipient of the International Performing Arts for Youth “Lifetime Achievement Award for Sustained Excellence”. Mr. Gonzalez was named a Joseph Campbell Foundation Fellow and was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for “Unique Theatrical Experience” for his production of The Frog Bride at Broadway’s New Victory Theater. He has created numerous productions, including the critically acclaimed ¡Sofrito! with The Latin Legends Band, and MytholoJazz, both of which enjoyed sold-out runs at New Victory Theater. David completed Wounded Splendor, a two-year residency and commission from the University of Maryland that celebrates the natural world and our responsibility to it. Sleeping Beauty, featuring Bach’s Goldberg Variations, premiered at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. David was a featured performer at the National Storytelling Festival, and has performed at festivals in Spain, Switzerland, France, Costa Rica, Norway, Puerto Rico, and throughout the United States. He also appeared for three seasons at the Royal National Theatre in London. Mr. Gonzalez was the Artistic Director for The Alliance for a New Humanity, an international service organization dedicated to peace and sustainability. The Man of the House was commissioned by and premiered at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Mr. Gonzalez’ work Double Crossed: The Saga of the St. Louis toured nationally, including a run at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1998. The same year, David was honored with the Helen Hayes Performing Artist of the Year Award. As If the Past Were Listening, a suite of creation myths, was selected for Lincoln Center Institute’s repertory for three seasons. David’s Latin Jazz poetry project City of Dreams was commissioned by the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center and premiered at La Mama Theater. He wrote Finding North, a one-man play based on Underground Railroad hero John Parker that was commissioned by the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and performed at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center; Aesop Bops! and co-wrote Mariel, an Afro-Cuban musical set in the turbulent times of the Mariel boatlift from Cuba, with Grammy-nominated songwriter John Forster. Mariel is the winner of the Macy’s “New Play Prize for Young Audiences.” David is also the author of the opera libretto Rise for Freedom! produced at the Cincinnati Opera, and Jimi and Mr. B, a musical commissioned by the Empire State Plaza Performing Arts Center. His long form poem Oh Hudson in collaboration with violin virtuoso Mark O’Connor commemorates the Hudson quadricentennial, and his version of The Carnival of the Animals with classical piano virtuoso Frederic Chui, has toured nationally. David received his doctorate in Music Therapy from New York University and taught there for ten years.
David’s poetry was featured at Lincoln Center’s Out-of-Doors Festival, Bill Moyers’s documentary Fooling with Words on PBS, NPR’s All Things Considered, and the World Science Festival among many other venues. His poetry book, Soundings, is available wherever books are sold. He was the host of New York Kids on WNYC for eight seasons. He earned a doctoral degree from New York University in Music Therapy and has conducted numerous seminars, workshops, and lectures, and worked as a music therapist in clinical and educational institutions. He is the Artistic Director of Crisalida Communications, an organization that supports communities through arts outreach. Online at www.crisalidacom.com