Scottish Chamber Orchestra's Stan and Mabel aims to introduce young children to live classical music
Jason Chapman's tale of instrument-playing animals is ideal for musical adaptation
Some books are crying out for adaptation, and as far as CBeebies presenter Chris Jarvis is concerned, Jason Chapman's tale of instrument-playing animals is definitely one of them.
'What's interesting about Stan and Mabel, is it was written as a book first but really lends itself to being transformed into a musical piece – I'm sure it was always the intention,' says Jarvis. 'Because it's all about a cat and dog who make their way to Italy to enter a music competition to be the best orchestra in the world, and they gather players – cows and other animals – on the way. I won't spoil the ending, but it's a happy one.'
Chapman's book has been adapted by composer Paul Rissman for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra's latest family concert, with Jarvis out front narrating. A regular storyteller, both on stage and television, Jarvis is no stranger to a good yarn and memorable tune – but hearing him effuse about Stan and Mabel, it's clear this gig in particular has caught his interest.
'So much care and thought has gone into composing this,' he says. 'There are four songs which the audience can join in with, and each one is instantly catchy and easy to learn. But at the same time they're not basic – they're sophisticated in their own special way.'
He's also passionate about introducing young children to good quality live classical music (Stan and Mabel is aimed at ages 4–8) – something missing from his own childhood.
'When I was young it was a world that wasn't really for us, that felt a bit boring and almost forbidden,' says Jarvis. 'Whereas now it really isn't – the doors have been thrown wide open and orchestras are welcoming children in. So much music children hear comes out of a speaker, but to see it played live by so many talented musicians, and realise how that sound is made, that's mind-blowing.'
Stan and Mabel, Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh, Sat 18 Feb.