A few years ago, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France joined up with an entire book of animated creatures to perform the classic Le Carnaval des Animaux (The Carnival of the Animals) by Camille Saint-Saëns.
Video of the performance, in 14 movements that represent different animals — a lion, a turtle, hens and roosters, elephants, fish, kangaroos, and more — was then packaged into an iPad app. It has become one of our favorites, not only due of the mix of animation and live action, but also because of how much time we get to spend with musicians playing beautiful music with their instruments. The video above is the grand finale. Highly recommended, along with these two newer apps from the same label: Pierre et le loup and Les 4 saisons d’Antoine.
Watch more videos with orchestras and more Saint-Saëns.
San Francisco’s Kei Lun Lion Dancers and their director Corey Chan are dedicated to telling stories that are thousands of years old. Though traditional dance, music, costume-making, and story translation, they hope to help preserve and pass on these ancient stories by performing them for younger generations. From KQED Arts:
In the traditional lion dance, props are used that represent different meanings. For example lettuce and tangerines, which are often hung for lion dancers to pluck (along with cash), represent prosperity; tangerines with stems represent the unity of the family. The props help tell the tale and present a puzzle the lion must solve for the dance to be successful. “The audience struggles with the lion,” says Chan. “Sometimes the lion looks so frustrated because it can’t do what it wants to do.” But his triumph, when it comes, is all the sweeter for the obstacles…
Though the dragon dance is more festive and less layered in meaning than the lion dance, the dragon has great significance in Chinese culture as well. “The dragon is the ultimate symbol of the Chinese people, who call themselves the descendants of the dragon,” Chan explains. “The ancients believed different dragons controlled rainfall and flooding; they brought life-giving rain to the crops which sustained a nation, or they caused the catastrophic floods that wiped out millions. No wonder dragons were considered the loftiest, most powerful and most fearsome of creatures.”
In the archives: another dragon, more storytelling and the influences of different cultures.
Some related favorites: The Last Ice Merchant, a música portuguesa a gostar dela própria, and Māori dancers perform a Haka dance.