San Juan Symphony's 'Carnival of the Animals' concert geared toward families

Lower ticket prices, lighthearted fare part of special event

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — A pared-down San Juan Symphony will perform a long-awaited, lighthearted concert this weekend that is designed to introduce younger listeners to the world of orchestral music.

"The Carnival of the Animals," a family-oriented concert that was planned for the Halloween season last fall before being postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will feature an orchestra of fewer than 20 musicians. But it also will feature two piano soloists, Holly Quist and Lisa Campi Walters, as well as a narrator who should be very familiar to Farmington-area residents — former state lawmaker Tom Taylor.

Thomas Heuser, the music director for the San Juan Symphony, said the event is part of the organization's plan to perform a family-oriented concert each year.

"It's also a great way to highlight our two piano soloists," he said, noting that Quist and Walters are members of the music faculty at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado.

Thomas Heuser will lead the San Juan Symphony in a performance of "The Carnival of the Animals" this weekend in Farmington.

Under Heuser's direction, the symphony will perform "The Carnival of the Animals," a composition in 14 movements written by French composer Camille Saint-Saens. Heuser said the piece is designed sonically so that each instrument or group of instruments represents a specific animal.

"It's a whole lot of fun," he said. "It's basically a 30-minute work that stands alone. But in between each section, we'll be featuring a poem by Ogden Nash."

Those readings will be conducted by Taylor, a retired state legislator, businessman and former Farmington mayor.

Heuser's hope is that the less-serious nature of this performance will spark the imagination of younger listeners, perhaps leading them to become patrons of the symphony as they grow older. Some might even be inspired to pick up an instrument, learn to play it and possibly pursue a position with the San Juan Symphony youth orchestras program, he said.

"I think that's what we hope to do with these family concerts," he said. "We want to bring the next generation into the symphony experience and get them excited about going to the concert hall."

The family concerts are designed to be attractive to families with their lower-than-normal ticket prices and mid-day start times, Heuser said, along with their more-accessible material.

Lifelong classical musical fans are introduced to the classical genre in such fashion, he said.

"We want them to come back for more," he said. "We want to make that a tradition."

The Carnival of the Animals Family Concert will be performed at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 22 at the Henderson Performing Arts Center Performance Hall on the San Juan College campus, 4601 College Blvd. in Farmington. Tickets are $5. Call 505-326-3311.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or Support local journalism with a digital subscription: