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The story of Babar the Little Elephant with the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra

The Cyprus Symphony Orchestra Foundation presents two afternoon concerts titled “The story of Babar, the little elephant” in collaboration with the Primary Education of the Ministry of Education and Culture.

The concerts will take place on Saturday 31 March 2012 at the Strovolos Municipal Theatre, Nicosia. Children will enjoy the story of their beloved little elephant Babar, with the accompaniment of the Cyprus Symphony orchestra and the music of Francis Poulenc orchestrated by J. Francaix. The programme takes place under the music direction of conductor Alkis Baltas, with narrator Petros Yiorkatzis.

Two family concerts, for children between 3 and 8 years old will take place on Saturday 31 March 2012 at the Strovolos Municipal Theatre in Nicosia at 16:00 and 17:30. Tickets at €7 (for adults) and free entrance vouchers (for children and young people under 18 years old) will be available at the theatre’s box office (Tel 22 310310) from Wednesday 28 March 2012.

The Story... One day during World War II, while Francis Poulenc was visiting some relatives in Bordeaux, his four-year-old niece expressed displeasure with what the composer was playing on the piano. With the certainty of youth, she removed Poulenc's hands from the keyboard and said "Oh, that is so ugly. Play this," placing one of Jean de Brunhoff's Babar books on the music stand. Poulenc improvised an accompaniment as he read the story.

Word must have spread through the neighbourhood, for the composer soon found himself surrounded by neighbourhood children; their names, in fact, appear in the dedication to the work inspired by the occasion, L' histoire de Babar, le petit elephant. Poulenc's work is a melodrama which combines de Brunhoff's narrative with evocative musical interludes. The story follows the life of the anthropomorphic elephant Babar from his birth and youth in the jungle to his life in Paris (where he learns to drive a car) to his marriage to Celeste, his childhood sweetheart. In lending a musical element to the story, Poulenc relies on a number of pictorial devices as well as the kind of stylized forms in which he excelled: a nocturne, a grand march, a lullaby, a waltz, a schottische.

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