Babar and the Animal Kingdom

Sunday 15 September 3:30pm

Well known to listeners of BBC Radio, announcers Peter Barker and Paul Guinery team up to present an afternoon of music and readings based around "Babar the Elephant" by French composer Francis Poulenc.

Their witty and sophisticated afternoon programme will appeal to all ages (this is not a children's concert, though surely children will enjoy it). As there is no charge for under-18s, maybe it's something you would like to come to as a family? Tea will be provided after the concert, which should last for about 80 minutes.
Tickets cost £12 on the door, but may be purchased in advance from Hall's Bookshop or by email from kcmconcerts@blueyonder.co.uk for just £10 (and remember that there is no charge for under-18s at any of our concerts).

Paul Guinery writes: Francis Poulenc is one of the most approachable and engaging of all the great 20th century French composers. He was an excellent pianist and the instrument features a great deal in his works, not only in solos and concertos but also in a remarkable repertoire of songs. His output was large and varied, including chamber music featuring wind instruments in particular; music for the theatre, in the form of incidental music as well as several operas; and choral music such as his popular setting of the Gloria.
Poulenc’s temperament was distinctly two-sided: on the one hand, there was the gregarious and genial bon viveur, delighting in all that Paris had to offer in the way of entertainment; on the other, the anxious melancholic whose love-life was often troubled and frustrating. His music is modern in style but, apart from some very early works, always tonal and often full of a sensual warmth and humanity.

The musical ‘illustrations’ for Jean de Brunhoff’s book, a children’s classic in France, were originally just improvised for young friends and relatives. Fortunately for posterity, Poulenc wrote them down in 1945 so that we can now share his enchanting vision, never sentimentalized, of the orphaned Babar who discovers the delights of being an elephant-about-town, but ultimately finds fulfilment back in the forest where he grew up.

Babar will be joined later by other members of the animal kindom, evoked through a selection of words and music, and this afternoon’s performers will introduce those items individually.

PETER BARKER At the age of eight somebody thought Peter’s voice was worth training and he spent his early years as a member of a cathedral choir. Afterwards, two years at RADA led to a career as an actor in repertory and touring theatre companies. A chance opportunity to join the BBC resulted in his becoming one of the daily voices of Radio 3, with the job of introducing all kinds of music, both from discs and live from studios and concert halls all over the world. For some years announcers were encouraged to fill gaps between programmes with readings of poetry and prose of their own choosing. This gave Peter the chance to develop and communicate to his audiences his love of literature. And this is what has been at the forefront of his collaboration with Paul Guinery, whom he met while they were both at Radio 3. Following the success of their first interpretation of Babar, they were encouraged to seek out other members of the animal kingdom and to put together the programme we are to hear today.

PAUL GUINERY Paul Guinery studied the piano at the Royal College of Music where he was awarded an ARCM; he went on to read for a degree in Modern Languages at Oxford. Paul has worked extensively with the wind quintet Harmoniemusik, which runs its own festival each summer in St.Columb, Cornwall, where he’s performed chamber music of all sorts, as well as piano concertos by Bach and Mozart. The group has issued a CD of music for piano and wind and plays regularly in London at city churches, the Art Workers’ Guild and Conway Hall, and has toured in the UK and abroad, including three visits to the Oloron Festival in France. Paul gives occasional solo recitals, and has recorded CDs of music by Rachmaninov, and by 20th century English composers. He’s also been musical director for Gilbert & Sullivan operettas; has played for cabaret at the Savoy Hotel in London; and in currently working on a book about the composer Frederick Delius, for publication next year. Like Peter, he was a staff announcer for Radio 3, and can still be heard on air as a newsreader.

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