Children and families in South Wales are in for a treat this April as celebrated young Welsh Folk group Calan bring their World Premiere tour of a musical adaptation of children’s story “The King, The Cat & The Fiddle” to schools and venues in the area. The story was co-written by Live Music Now founder and one of the greatest violinists of the 20th century, Yehudi Menuhin, alongside author Christopher Hope with illustrations by Angela Barrett.
The story tells the tale of a happy, hapless King, who had too many accountants and not enough money, and whose Chief Accountant decides that to save the kingdom the King must fire his beloved fiddlers! A tragedy in a kingdom where music is happiness and happiness is music….
The musical performance of The King, The Cat & The Fiddle has been specially adapted to be performed for families and children of early years and primary school age, as well as children with special educational needs and disabilities. The World Premiere takes place at St David’s Hall, Cardiff on 22nd April – Menuhin’s 100th birthday, with a second date for families on Saturday 23rd April. Calan are then touring the performance to Special Needs Schools in South Wales over April – June, with the support of Arts Council Wales. Other schools are able to buy in the opportunity from Live Music Now Wales if they would like to get involved.
LMN Wales Director, Claire Cressey, spoke with Calan about the commissioning process so far.
“It’s a beautiful tale” said Angharad Jenkins, fiddle player with Calan. “There are very few copies of the book left in print, so it is a real honour to set the story to music for Live Music Now’s Menuhin Centenary celebrations. There are even fiddle exercises for children in the back, so we’re hoping to include a few of those in our interactive sessions! ”
“I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, I’d love to do more of this sort of work, especially for children. We are used to composing as a group, so we have each given thought to certain sections when on our own, then have spent several days together working out everyone’s contributions and developing the music around those initial ideas. Beth has used the text very closely for telling the story, and it is brilliant the beautiful illustrations will become part of our performance as well. ”
“We wrote a song for our album Dinas called ‘Tale of two dragons’ which tells the story of the folk tale of Merlin and his two dragons, ” said Bethan Williams (Voice, Accordian, Clog Dancing), “ Working on lyrics for “The King, the Cat and the Fiddle” has been an extension of this sort of approach for me. I’ve been able to draw some great quotes from the text itself and weave it into our musical approach. We want the story to be clear, and not too wordy for our audience of younger children and those with special educational needs, but we also want to allow space for the music to tell the story and emotions as well. We will be teaching people what to listen out for and how to get involved in the telling of the tale in the first half of our workshop so it allows us the opportunity to encourage real interaction as well. ”
“Joining LMN has been a brilliant experience for us” said Calan fiddle and pipe player Patrick Rimes. “The training and opportunities we’ve had in care homes and schools have all fed into our development of this new piece of music. We’re starting (The King, the Cat and the Fiddle) with an interactive workshop which explores traditional Welsh folk, and how music can be used to tell a story. Then the performance itself includes the audience in the telling of the tale. We’ve got bubbles and clog dancing, fiddle exercises and cat’s tails – we really can’t wait for the premiere!”
To book for the premiere of The King, The Cat & The Fiddle visit the St David’s Hall website or contact the box office on 029 2087 8444. For details on how to book the performance for your school or venue please contact Live Music Now Wales on E: [email protected] T: 029 2055 4040.
Photo of Yehudi Menuhin and students from the Menuhin School courtesy of The Strad Photography Archive www.thestrad.com
For more information on LMN’s Menuhin Centenary celebration, click here.