Saint-Saëns' Carnival of the Animals
Join us on August 27
To all music lovers of Peachtree Corners: I am David Troy Francis, the director of music at Simpsonwood United Methodist Church.

On Saturday, August 27th at 4pm and 7pm, we are excited to present extraordinary young singers and instrumentalists in CARNIVAL OF THE ANIMALS. Our esteemed conductor will be maestro Jeff Foster, head of the instrumental department at the Wesleyan School.

Composed in 1886, Carnival of the Animals is a series of musical vignettes--each representing a different animal including a lion, rooster, elephant, swan and more.  This performance will also feature poems by Ogden Nash with a narrator!  The musical work by Camille Saint-Saëns is beloved by people of all ages. Act II will present entertaining and exciting vocal selections from theatre and film.

This and other concerts will be specifically created to expose the larger community to entertaining and uplifting classical music and to include gifted young people from all walks of life. This will be an incredible evening!

While there is no charge to attend, we will gratefully accept donations to fund this and other concerts hosted by Simpsonwood UMC. Reservations are required so please RSVP on this site for the 4pm or 7pm performance.  Please join us for a fabulous evening!

This concert is appropriate and enthralling for people of all ages.

David Troy Francis
Simpsonwood United Methodist Church
4500 Jones Bridge Cir NW, Peachtree Corners, GA 30092
Date & Time


August 27, 2022
4pm - 5:30pm or
7pm - 8:30pm
April 8, 1956
Excerpt from the Ed Sullivan Show with Noel Coward, narrator.
about Carnival of the Animals
Camille Saint-Saëns circa 1880

If you aren’t already familiar with the work in its entirety, we suspect you’ll recognize more than one or two of the movements!
The Carnival of the Animals (Le Carnaval des animaux) is a gorgeous and lyrical piece of music.

The work, about 25 minutes in duration, was composed by Mr. Saint-Saëns in 1886 while he took a vacation in a small, beautiful Austrian village. The fanciful suite features 14 different movements, each one featuring an animal or group of animals.

From the beginning he regarded the work as a piece of fun. In the past century and a half, the work has become one of the romantic-era composer’s most famous works; an irony because he was a bit embarrassed about it being published at all.

Carnival of the Animals is typically the first of Saint-Saëns’ compositions a classical music lover ever hears and is considered one of his best works.

Thus, it’s hard for contemporary musicians and audiences to believe his reluctance to publish and perform the work. Instead, Saint-Saëns struck a deal that the piece would not be published or performed (with one exception noted below) until after his death, which didn’t occur for another 34 years.

In 1949 Ogden Nash wrote a set of humorous verses to accompany each movement for a Columbia Masterworks recording of Carnival of the Animals conducted by Andre Kostelanetz. They were recited by Noël Coward with the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall, New York, in 1956.
I. Introduction and Royal March of the Lion
II. Hens and Roosters
III. Wild Asses - quick animals
IV. Tortoises
V. The Elephant
VI. Kangaroos
VII. Aquarium
VIII. Characters with Long Ears
IX. The Cuckoo in the Depths of the Woods
X. Aviary
XI. Pianists
XII. Fossils
XIII. The Swan
XIV. Finale
There was one exception to Saint-Saëns’ “no publishing rule,” and that was for Movement 13: Le Cygne (The Swans).
The Swans
Watch the famous movement performed by cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Kathryn Stott.
 Join us on August 27 !
We look forward to see you and your family!
the artists
Before the lights dim or a single note is played, there are countless journeys that lead to a concert like this.  From a volunteer who sets up music stands to a child experiencing their first concert to the musician who has honed her craft for countless hours—each night these disparate histories blend into new stories that connect us to this ephemeral moment in time.  

We celebrate these young performers for their dedication, talent, work ethic, passion and love of music.

The music department of Simpsonwood United Methodist Church continues to explore imaginative and magical material through these unique concerts. Some of this music has resounded for centuries while more recently created music has just begun to enthrall us.

We invite you to join us for this very special concert and experience anew or for the first time the enchanting Carnival Of The Animals by Camille Saint-Saens.
Gavin Burns
Gavin is 16 years old and has been a percussionist for four years. He is a sophomore at Wesleyan School under director Jeff Foster and is an avid member of the marching band and theatre department. Last year he performed in the GMEA 9th-10th All State Orchestra as their 2nd chair percussionist.

Leona Longhurst
Leona is 16 years old and has been playing the violin for 5 years under Dr. Vera Ilyushina and Dr. Krupiczewicz. She is first chair for the North Cobb Chamber Orchestras and have been an active participant in the Georgia Youth Orchestra programs such as the Philharmonic and Symphony orchestras and the Honors Strings Quartet/octet and String Symposium for 4 seasons. Ms. Longhurst has performed many solo concerts and does volunteer work at senior homes performing with her friends.

Drew Lakly
Double bass
Drew has received the honor of being the 2nd chair bass in the highest orchestra at the Florida State University summer camp, being accepted into the Fayette Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, and being Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra’s 4th chair bass. He is a student of Gloria Allgood, the assistant principal double bass of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and he has been selected by his school to perform the Dragonetti Bass Concerto as a soloist.

Faith Meshida
Faith began playing the violin at the age of 7. She currently studies with Elonia Varfi at the Atlanta Music Academy. She has participated in the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra since the 2020-21 season, and the Georgia Music Educators Association All-State Orchestra since 2021. She earned a scholarship to and attended the prestigious Brevard Music Center's High School Orchestral Institute this summer. She is a Fellows film student at Central Gwinnett High’s School of the Arts program and enjoys watching films, screenwriting, and reading.

Ashan Galhena
Ashan is a seasoned flutist and piccolo player from Suwanee, GA. He has been a member of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra, honor ensembles such as the GMEA All-State and All-District Bands and Orchestras. Ashan is a private student of flutist Li Xing Yu and has worked with several esteemed music directors including current GMEA President Matt Koperniak and former Phantom Regiment head conductor Dean Patterson; and clinicians such as Director of Bands at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Thomas Dvorak and Associate Conductor of the Kansas City Symphony Jason Seber.

Athena yang
Athena is a sophomore at The Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology.  She has been playing viola for 4 years. She enjoys playing in different youth orchestras and making new friends in the music community. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music, hanging out with friends, and hiking.

Christian Phanhthourath
Christian Phanhthourath is a rising junior attending Wheeler High School’s magnet program, and has played the cello for eight years. He loves to participate in music outside of school through youth orchestras, chamber ensembles, and events like All-State, and he is also excited to be attending GHP this summer for cello! Outside of cello, he likes to read, write, hang out with friends, and compose in his free time.

Elli Murphy
Elli Murphy is a junior at Greater Atlanta Christian School and a member of the Senior Competition Team and Senior Ballet Ensemble at Academy of
Ballet. She started dancing in 2009 and has been taking classes ever since. Her favorite style of dance is ballet. For the 2021-2022 season she competed with the variation “Aurora's Wedding” from Sleeping Beauty at YAGP. She has been in the AOB Certified Teacher Training course for 2 years.

Kevin is a 17-year-old student from Buford, GA, who is a clarinetist in the Atlanta Youth Wind Symphony and the Mill Creek High School Wind Ensemble. Holding principal and section positions with the GMEA All-State Bands and Orchestras, NAfME All-National Symphony Orchestra, and Interlochen Art Camp’s World Youth Wind Symphony, Jin has performed with world-renowned conductors including Dr. Steve Davis, Dr. Sharon Lavery, and Stephen G. Peterson. Jin has appeared in masterclasses with Dr. Bryan Conger, Chris Pell, Sandra Jackson, and Alcides Rodriguez. In May of 2022, Jin performed the Rondo movement of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto with his sister, Sarah Jin, at Mill Creek High School and won the concerto competition. Jin plans to graduate high school in May of 2023 and pursue clarinet performance in college. Jin currently studies clarinet with Dr. Justin Stanley in Atlanta, GA, and spends his summers at Interlochen Arts Camp where he was awarded the prestigious Orchestral Scholarship.

Erin is currently a rising junior and goes to Kell High School. She has been playing the piano since 5 years old. She has won numerous competitions since 4th grade. These competitions include GMTA, MTNA and RIPC.  In addition to piano, she is proficient in violin. She is the concertmaster in her school orchestra and is in the school quartet. In her free time, she enjoys being around her friends and family.  

S. Fang is an experienced piano player who worked with piano teacher Dr. Hsin-Lan Chien Lo, and participated in the GMTA auditions for multiple years. Mr. Fang was awarded with OP (top 4-8 in the state) and HM (top 15 in the state). He has been playing piano for about eleven years, and has played pieces by Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, and many other classical artists.

Ellis Marie Brown
Sought after emerging talent, Ellis Marie Brown is from just outside of Atlanta. She is a rising 7th grader and loves all things arts related. She enjoys spending time with friends and writing scripts for short videos that they produce. Also, she loves music and dance, especially singing and playing the piano.
Noah Walton
Noah is an 18 year old seasoned percussionist and musician. He has sang in halls across the world and performed percussive arts on a national scale. He is entering a music performance degree under the study of John Lawless at Kennesaw State University in the fall. Last summer, he performed independently with Drum Corps International. He has set that aside to be an instructor at Wesleyan, Denmark High School, and North Gwinnett High School in the winter.
Jeff Foster
Jeff is the outstanding director of instrumental music at Wesleyan School in Peachtree Corners for 24 years.  He leads the symphonic band, percussion ensemble, and marching band. He also teaches AP Music Theory, Honors Music Theory, and Music Appreciation.  Jeff is a fierce trumpet player who has studied trumpet with Greg Holland, Al Ligotti, Moffatt Williams, and Fred Mills. He has studied conducting with Dr. John Culvahouse and Dr. Robert Ponto. Jeff earned his Bachelors in Music Education from the University of Georgia and a Masters of Music in Conducting from the American Band College. His professional affiliations include the National Band Association and the Georgia Music Educators Association.

He is married to Meg Foster, the director of Fine Arts K-12 at Wesleyan. Meg and Jeff have been married for 18 years and have 2 daughters, Audrey and Eva.

André has spent much of his life bringing astonishment and inspiration to audiences with his spectacular voice and acting talents.  He has starred in multiple professional musical theatre performances including RENT, CHICAGO and PRIME RIBBING.  He has been cast in professional television commercials and has performed in various venues including a recent performance at the Diana Wortham Theatre in Asheville, NC. André Ellerby was born on the gulf coast of Mississippi and made his way to Morehouse college in Atlanta on a track scholarship.  His love for the arts continues to permeate his work and life here in Atlanta where he resides.  
Zachary Brown is an Atlanta native and highly sought after actor/singer. He has performed roles such as Rolf in the SOUND OF MUSIC, Action in WEST SIDE STORY with The Atlanta Symphony, and Andrew in the ROCK AND THE RABBIRock. A classically trained musician, Mr. Brown also sings with various vocal ensembles around the southeast. He has performed various supporting roles with the Atlanta Opera over the past 20 years. He is also a regional soloist in performances of liturgical works spanning from Faure to Hayden and Handel. 
david troy francis

Mr. Francis has enjoyed a 50+ year career of musical excellence and performs in recital throughout America and Europe. He has ten cds available including the world premiere recording of Mr. Rorem's Eight Etudes for Piano on the cd entitled The Americans. The Los Angeles Times raves of Mr. Francis’ playing: "consistently absorbing whether in lyrical repose or propulsive fury." Two of his best selling CDs include his unique and compelling arrangements of American Hymns.

Mr. Francis was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and is best known for his steadfast championing and performance of contemporary American music.

He is the creator, composer, musical director and executive producer of the runaway smash hit musical BARK! - the 3rd longest running production in Los Angeles theatrical history. The wildly successful show has been mounted in theatres from Florida to Alaska and internationally in Brazil and Scotland.

He is the artistic director of the Roswell Music Club and the Alpharetta Music Club, and is the proud director of music at Simpsonwood United Methodist Church.
Lem Meador
Production Engineer
Joint owner of The Branding Iron, LLC, a marketing and multimedia production company, located in Peachtree Corners, GA, Lem is passionate about a/v production - recording and mixing music for clients in The Branding Iron Studio, producing animations and videos for Simpsonwood United Methodist Church, and leading a team of amazing volunteers at the church, providing a high tech and high touch experience every Sunday for the congregation.
steve banks
sound design
Steve Banks has over two decades of experience as an actuary for the life insurance industry, both in the US and abroad. He joined Simpsonwood UMC with his wife Brenda and three children over one decade ago. He performs live audio engineering for the in-person modern worship service there on Sundays at 11:10 am.
Ann sowell
Lighting design
 Join us on August 27
We look forward to see you and your family!
Contact me
Please contact me if you you have any questions.

David Troy Francis, Director of Music, Simpsonwood UMC
Your donation will help Simpsonwood UMC continue to present exquisite
classical music concerts and foster marvelous young artists.

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