Performing for a non-profit community music school that had a high attendance of little wiggly audience members, back in 1997, brings back many chuckles.
The program had an animal theme: Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite, Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saëns and Poulenc’s The Story of Babar the Elephant. Young children, including toddlers, were invited to come up on stage for various parts of the concert, to “meet” the animals (as well as us performers).
I was pleased and delighted that Random House publishers had given us permission to not only narrate the story of Babar, but, also to share slides for added visuals. Husband, Dale, took photographs of each page to project onto a movie screen.
I had been practicing the music for a few weeks, anxious that my unborn child, now almost 8 months in the making, was only hearing French music. I have always claimed to be a Brahms fan at heart.
Our dress rehearsals had gone smoothly and we all looked forward to an entertaining afternoon of descriptive music with an enthusiastic and lively audience.
At the concert, all went well with the Mother Goose Suite and the various selected movements of the Carnival of the Animals charmed everyone. Finally, the pièce de résistance on the program, saved as the grand finale, was Poulenc’s The Story of Babar the Elephant. I walked up to the piano and sat down to play. Somehow, my pregnant belly hit the piano keys and the resultant tone cluster brought the house down in uncontrolled laughter.
The laughter wouldn’t stop. So, I stood up, to steer the audience into a semblance of silence and then it became clear to me: my very rotund physique was all the more accented by the gray outfit I was wearing. I was, unwittingly, the elephant, Babar!
A few days later, my child was born, 5 weeks early.