A Symphony Orchestra
In 1983 David Perlman heard tell of Bryce the Toymaker from one
of my patrons, and called to ask if I could do a caricature of
a horse playing cello. David is a professional quality amateur
fiddler who plays informally with YoYo Ma, and Ma means horse
in Chinese. I said, "Sure," and the game was off and running.
David loved the horse, and decided what he really wanted was an
entire orchestra, to be confabulated and carved over time, maybe
a lifetime. He and his wife Jackie began imagining players, and
we'd have long fanciful phone consultations about wooden music.
Our second musician was a fiddler dog on a tricycle. Where you'd
pushed YoYo's tail up and down to get him to play, the dog would
pedal and fiddle as you rolled his trike around.
Next we mounted a fox in hunting costume on a charger, and gave
him a French horn to blow.
We decided that the King of Beasts should play the King of Instruments,
and I fabricated a rosewood piano for him. When you work his tail
up and down he throws back his head and roars. Rock him side to
side and he pounds those 88s. Wild.
King of Beasts
Panther on Harp
We dressed up a lady panther in an evening gown and had her serenade
a cardinal on a golden harp. Another tail-driven device.
Jackie wanted to surprise David with a performer for his birthday
one year. He's a Taurus, and likes to sail, so we designed a sailing
fiddler who was bullheaded.
Bull on Violin
Rhino on Tuba
One of our ambitions is to give each musician more personality
than the last. To constantly one-up myself. Over time the detailing
and style of the players has evolved with my mastery, but it's
still a challenge to surpass my previous effort. This saggy-baggy
rhino was a triumph, or at least an umph. His ears wiggle when
you pump his tail.
Another challenge of doing a series is to keep them in the same
scale. I have a lot of trouble with size: my pieces seem to grow
with the years, and have minds of their own about how big. This
wildebeast on drums had to hunch over to stay under the design
Gnu on tympani
Boar on Xylophone
Then the boar had to get in his licks, and I put him on a block
of ice to chill out.
When it came time to hire a conductor for this orchestra, Baboonini was the obvious choice.
..takes a bow