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.

Fiddler Dog

Fox Horn
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 ceiling.

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

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