VAMSO: Carnival of the Animals

Click here for Press Kit  (photos, biographies, VAM logo file, downloadable press release)

April 9, 2018

Vancouver Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra (VAMSO) presents

Carnival of the Animals

VAMSO presents Saint-Saëns’ grand zoological fantasy with
the reveries of Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun

 Vancouver, BC – The Vancouver Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra  (VAMSO) presents Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals, May 6, 2018, 2pm at the Orpheum Theatre. Under the baton of Kathleen Allan, VAMSO will delve into this sonic expedition of wildlife in addition to Debussy’s hypnagogic Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun and works by Gabriel Fauré and Francis Poulenc.

“Saint-Saëns never envisioned Carnival of the Animals as suitable for public performance due to its frivolous nature; during his lifetime performances were largely limited to private settings” says Joseph Elworthy, Executive Director of the Vancouver Academy of Music. “The public premiere took place not long after the composer’s death and quickly became one of his most popular works. Beneath the whimsy lies an abundance of educational value; with instruments imitating the familiar sounds of animals, this piece is often used as a lighthearted but inventive introduction to the orchestra.” Saint-Saëns’ cavalcade of comical creatures ignites the imagination through evoking a variety of images including the march of regal lions, an elegant swan gliding on water, long-eared ‘characters’ (rumoured to depict the braying of music critics), and a chorus line of tortoises high kicking in slow motion accompanied by a rumbling adaptation of Offenbach’s Infernal Galop.

Spotlighting the dreamlike side of the French flair for musical imagery, VAMSO pairs Carnival of the Animals with Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun. This orchestral reverie, inspired by the work of iconic symbolist poet Stephane Mallarmé, paints a tableau of a faun enchanted by nymphs on a warm sunny afternoon, drifting lazily in and out of sleep. The free and improvisatory style of Debussy’s writing in this piece not only evokes the carefree frolic of nature in vivid colours but also defied musical standards; Prelude was such a monumental piece of its time that famed composer and conductor Pierre Boulez once remarked that “the flute of the faun brought new breath to the art of music”.

Members of VAM’s Mary Buckerfield White Choral Program join VAMSO on stage for Gabriel Fauré’s Pavane and Cantique de Jean Racine, the latter of which won first prize in a composition competition held at École Niedermeyer, where Fauré  received training from Saint-Saëns. Kathleen Allan, who serves a dual leadership role at VAM as Associate Conductor of VAMSO and Director of Choral Studies, brings together VAM’s four choirs of nearly 100 singers combined for the afternoon’s choral-orchestral selections. Completing the concert program will be Poulenc’s Concert champêtre, or “Pastoral Concerto”, featuring harpsichordist Christina Hutten.

About Vancouver Academy of Music (
Founded in 1969, the Vancouver Academy of Music (VAM) is a non-profit institution that has been spreading a love of learning and musical excellence for generations of aspiring musicians. Located minutes away from downtown, VAM’s spacious facility features teaching studios, expansive classrooms, a library, and two recital halls – all set against the scenic backdrop of Vanier Park.

VAM’s fundamental purpose is to explore the transformative power of music through fostering an inclusive learning environment led by a team of devoted faculty with strong professional backgrounds. From Early Childhood Education to adult learning, VAM delivers world-class music education to students of all ages and abilities.

In addition to private lessons and class instruction, VAM students engage with world-renowned visiting artists in master classes, cooperate with other national and international music education organizations, and participate in numerous performances and competitions. VAM’s Orchestral Training Program is home to four levels of orchestra, which culminates in the Orpheum Series – four concerts that spotlight the VAM Symphony Orchestra in one of Vancouver’s most iconic cultural venues, the Orpheum Theatre.

VAM Symphony Orchestra: Carnival of the Animals

When: Sunday, May 6, 2018 at 2pm
Where: Orpheum Theatre, 601 Smithe St
Tickets: $15 Adults, $10 Students & Seniors, available at

For further media information, contact
Daniel Marshall, Marketing & Communications Manager
[email protected]  |  604.734.2301


VAM’s Orchestral Program is supported by RBC Foundation and the R & J  Stern Family Foundation