A pair of familiar classical pieces are featured in an upcoming performance by an ensemble of the Inland Northwest Musicians.
Under the direction of R. Lee Friese, the Inland Northwest Orchestra will present “The Carnival of the Animals” by Camille Saint-Saens and “Grand Canyon Suite” by Ferde Grofe. The free performance is Saturday, Feb. 24 at 4 p.m. at Columbia Basin College, 2600 N. 20th Ave., Pasco. Donations are welcome. Also, the public is invited to a reception following the concert.
Inland Northwest Musicians — with about half of its participants residing in Hermiston and the surrounding area — travel throughout the region to present classical music free of charge. Tax-deductible donations are accepted.
Saint-Saens, who died in 1921, composed “Carnival of the Animals” in 1886. Regarding the work as a piece of fun, he requested that it should be published posthumously — viewing it as a detraction from his “serious” composer image.
Referring to it as a “grand zoological fantasy,” each of the 14 movements represent a different animal or animals, beginning with “Royal March of the Lion.” Other creatures represented include hens, roosters, tortoises, elephants, kangaroos, swans and more.
According to a 2016 PBS broadcast, Saint-Saens wrote the pieces as a joke for a Mardi Gras party. “Carnival” has become one of the composer’s best-known works.
The performance features guest pianists, Bill McKay, arts and humanities dean at Columbia Basin College in Pasco, and Jody Graves, concert pianist and professor of piano at Eastern Washington University in Cheney. In addition, it includes narration featuring humorous poems written in 1949 by Odgen Nash.
Grofe composed the “Grand Canyon Suite” between 1929-31. It was initially titled “Five Pictures of the Grand Canyon.”
Each of the five movements highlight typical scenes at the Grand Canyon, including “Sunrise,” “Painted Desert,” “On the Trail,” “Sunset” and “Cloudburst.” The suite was used in “Grand Canyon,” a 1958 Walt Disney film that won an Academy Award for Best Short Subject.
Founded in 1999, Inland Northwest Musicians fosters an atmosphere of encouragement and assists musicians in developing their talent. Auditions are not required.
Other upcoming events include:
• Inland Northwest Chorale: March 3 at the Waitsburg Christian Church, in Washington; and March 4 at the SAGE Center, Boardman. Both performances are at 4 p.m.
•Young Artist Competition: March 11 in Hermiston (additional details to be announced).
•Willow Creek Symphony: March 17 at Armand Larive Middle School and March 18 in Arlington (additional details TBA).