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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Pied Pipers perform playful student-directed music

<night at 8 p.m. in the Concert Hall the Pied Pipers will take to the stage to perform their latest show, Adam in Wonderland. The Pied Pipers, an orchestral troupe created by Bomi Johnson ’18 and Evie Rosenberg ’17 during Spring term 2016, play classical pieces while students narrate stories infused with a Carleton spirit. After performing Peter and the Wolf and The Nutcracker, narrated by students with accompanying orchestral arrangements, Johnson decided to get more creative.

“Over break, I watched Alice in Wonderland and thought ‘Adam in Wonderland,’” Johnson said, referencing the story’s title. She then set about writing the story, a “spoof of Alice in Wonderland where Adam eats a brownie and starts hallucinating.”

According to Adam Shaukat ’17, the narrator and protagonist, it is a story about a typical weekend on campus, with a twist.

“It’s a night at Carleton…gone weird,” said Shaukat. Along with all of the favorites in tow, like the Mad Hatter and Tweedledee/Tweedledum, the story plays Lewis Carroll’s classic tale.

More important than the narrative to Pied Pipers’ productions is the music itself. “It is an orchestral production,” said Shaukat, with the story added on for extra entertainment.

This term’s performance is particularly focused on the music, as Johnson cut and transposed the arrangements herself. Unlike prior performances, where the music was already prepared for the story, Johnson had to choose orchestral and symphonic excerpts to fit the story she had written. Additionally, she had to transpose the pieces to fit the instruments of the ensemble.

“I pulled a lot of different orchestral excerpts that I liked and then arranged and transposed them to fit the different instrumentation that we have,” Johnson explained.

The result is a score that, according to Shaukat, is composed of “classical music’s greatest hits.”

A key element for everyone involved in the production is a heavy emphasis on fun. According to Rosenberg, the Pied Pipers was started because “we wanted a fun, more casual way to play classical music at Carleton.” Rather than a formal orchestra, Johnson and Rosenberg see this more as a creative outlet for classical musicians. “It’s playing music just for the sake of playing music,” Johnson said.

Additionally, Johnson and Rosenberg wanted to make classical music more exciting for students. “We wanted a way for classical music to be more accessible for our friends,” noted Rosenberg.

Johnson added that “this makes classical music more tangible for people who don’t really know or care about it.”

For students in the orchestral ensemble, the work of the Pied Pipers seems to have exactly this effect. Both Dorry Jaffe ’18 and Sarah Paller ’18 emphasized the fun atmosphere of the Pied Pipers’ last performance. “The Nutcracker was just a fun, goofy time, and I think that does make it more exciting, that it is entirely these performers just taking this on because they love doing it,” noted Jaffe. Paller added that “they want everyone to have a good time,” which makes it more fun to watch.

For Shaukat, these performances are also a way to “support our classmates and our friends in ways that we don’t normally get to and in ways we don’t even know we could.”

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