The fourth of the continuing series of stories involving the young boy Leonard and his stuffed horse Rasmus came to life Saturday morning at 11:00 at Sunset Center in Carmel. Understanding that Rasmus is pure magic appeals to the youngsters in the audience as well as the adults. This marvelous creation comes from Suzanne Mudge, Tower Music Director and since 2015, Director of Community Engagement at the Carmel Bach Festival. Other adventures have gone round the world to nine countries, underwater, and solving a Carmel mystery celebrating 100 years of the town. Of course, each story line is not only delightfully entertaining, but has accompanying music provided by festival instrumentalists. The “boy” is none other than Paul Goodwin enchanting the audience with his sense of playfulness and shocking orange hair.
“Expedition To The Moon” is informational and interactive as well as thoroughly entertaining. Moon facts and other outer space photos on the large screen met the audience as they entered the hall. A few minutes before the official start, instruments could be heard warming up – perhaps not unlike imagined sounds from outer space. This morphed into a veritable parade of the musicians coming from the back of the auditorium playing a variety of “sounds” to great delight. As Leonard and Rasmus settle in, the story begins. Observing the moon and wondering at its beauty as well as what it made of, the brass and winds played the beautiful “Clair de Lune.” Counting the planets led to discussing Pluto, which has been demoted. Of course this allowed the Youth Orchestra of Salinas Choir led by Michael Gomez to sing Mark Burrows “Ode to Pluto (You’ll Always Be A Planet to Me).” These young smiling voices were a definite hit with the audience.
No expedition to the moon would be complete without noting the 48th anniversary of the first moon landing on July 20, 1969, as well as a real astronaut to guide the adventure. James Newman, PhD, NASA astronaut, Space Systems NPS, appeared to great cheers from the audience. With four space shuttle trips and six moonwalks, he is more than qualified to assist! With Leonard donning a space suit and helmet, they “take off” to the music of Mozart’s Allegro Assai from Symphony No.40. The added note here was that this began what became known as the Mannheim skyrocket for the opening and repeated ascending arpeggio theme. A trip to the moon deserves a moonwalk, and the Aaron Jay Kernis “Musica Celestis” with the pizzicato strings was more than apt accompaniment for a gallop on the moon surface.
It was time for an appearance of an android – played to much enthusiasm by Rebecca Mariman from the Bach Chorale. And, not just any android, but a paranoid android being chased by a “creature.” The music of Heitor Villa-Lobos expertly played by the magic fingers of Keenan Boswell whizzed by at breakneck tempo accompanied this entrance. Almeta, or “Al” explained her presence on the moon and burst into “Moon Glow” as the back up instrumentalists turned into a “big band” sound. Then, Eric Gorfain’s arrangement of Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” was most suiting for the battle of Leonard with green light saber to chase the unseen but musically felt creature off stage left. This almost tango rhythm kept the audience on the edge of their seats wondering how it would all turn out. As Leonard reentered from stage right, he was carrying a colorful butterfly! In fantasy, magic turns monsters into butterflies! “Al” was most grateful and was informed that there would possibly be more visitors to the moon in 2018. A space adventure program would certainly not be complete with the music of John Williams. The finale was “Theme from Star Wars” – a rousing finish to the continuing adventures of Leonard and Rasmus!
Also accompanying the story line were the charming illustrations of Makenna Allison of Bend Oregon, a student of Savannah College of Art and Design. The creations of Mudge deserve a wider audience and definitely should be published. No news on the next adventure, but stay tuned to information from the Carmel Bach Festival for 2018. Where do you think Leonard and his trusty steed Rasmus should go next?