Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Penguin Cafe

Mr Gnome, ever receptive to quirky individuality, is a longtime fan of the upbeat, sprightly syncopations of The Penguin Cafe Orchestra.

The orchestra's composer and presiding genius Simon Jeffes died in 1997, but his legacy lives on through recordings and ongoing live performances.

Back in the 1980s Jeffes created a suite of music for the ballet Still Life at the Penguin Cafe, which remains in the repertoire of the splendid Birmingham Royal Ballet.

To describe the piece one is obliged to mention that along with penguin waiters, a menagerie of creatures dance their way across the stage: mountain sheep, a bug, a kangaroo rat, a zebra ....

Sounds twee?

It's not.

By turns funny and touching, the dances created for these engaging creatures (by choreographer David Bintley) celebrate the beauty, strength and vulnerability of the animal kingdom - and hint at the threat posed to all of them by human mismanagement of the world's resources.

The match between music and movement is, for me, pitch-perfect - intoxicating.

And perhaps its no surprise that a voiceless art can so successfully speak up for our voiceless fellow residents of Planet Earth.


brett jordan said...

love the pco, Music For A Found Harmonium is probably my favourite

Mr Gnome said...

Well, I have a feeling you'd love the ballet as well. Hurrah!