Zeb Soanes joins us this Saturday (18 June 2022) to narrate Sergei Prokofiev’s most popular composition Peter and the Wolf, for the Family Concert at Warwick Hall, Warwick.
The Swan: We’re really looking forward to having you narrate Peter and the Wolf at Warwick Hall on 18 June. Is this the first time you’ve narrated a classical concert before and are you looking forward to it?
aching cello to took part anyway though and everyone had a brilliant, fun time playing the instruments the Birmingham Music Hub had lent the students for this project.
ZS: I’m hugely looking-forward to returning to Warwick and to performing Peter and the Wolf. I regularly narrate orchestral works for children and more challenging works for adults such as Walton’s Façade. It’s one of the parts of my career I enjoy the most.
The Swan: For many children this will be their first introduction to a live orchestra and classical music. Can you remember the first time you were introduced to classical music as a child? What was it, who introduced you and how was the experience for you?
ZS: I had an inspirational music teacher at Primary School in Lowestoft, called Mr Taylor. He was also a skilled cartoonist. As we listened to great works on his record-player he would illustrate the story on an overhead projector, which we would then copy into our books. This means I have those works vividly etched into my mind as an adult: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, A Night on Bare Mountain, Fingal’s Cave etc.
The Swan: Did it motivate you to learn to play an instrument? If so, what did you play?
ZS: I played the piano and inherited my mother’s ear. My father is a Methodist minister and mum would accompany him around country chapels playing the organ, or pedal harmonium. She could busk just about every hymn. It used to frustrate my piano teacher, Miss Blythe, because if she put a piece of music in front of me that I knew, I would just play it by ear, not necessarily in the right key or the exact printed notes but with wonderful gusto!
The Swan: Peter and the Wolf is Prokofiev’s much-loved tale of a fearless boy and a ferocious wolf. Over the last few years you have been introducing readers to a different kind of furry animal. Tell us your inspiration behind Gaspard the Fox.
ZS: The first Gaspard the Fox adventure was inspired by my real encounters with an urban fox in London that used to visit me nightly. We would sit side by side on my doorstep watching the world go by and I would imagine all the things he might get up to. The third book, Gaspard’s Foxtrot was specifically written to be set to music by the composer Jonathan Dove in the tradition of works like Peter and the Wolf and Jonathan has just finished writing the music for the next story, Gaspard’s Christmas, which will be published in October and the concert version will premiere at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall in December.