Celebrate Christmas with Gaspard the Fox! - Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Celebrate Christmas with Gaspard the Fox!

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Celebrate Christmas with Gaspard the Fox! Posted Mon 19 December 2022

Celebrate Christmas with Gaspard the Fox!

Following on from the success of Gaspard’s Foxtrot, our concert programme for schools, we’re excited to perform the world premiere of Gaspard’s Christmas, the latest orchestral tale from Classic FM presenter and author Zeb Soanes. With music by composer Jonathan Dove and live drawing from illustrator James Mayhew, this extra special performance is the perfect way to see in Christmas with the family.

We spoke to Zeb and James about all things Christmas ahead of the concerts this month (…and included a few RSNO treats throughout!).

Aside from Gaspard’s Christmas…what will you be listening to on Christmas Day?

James – I always listen to Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera Christmas Eve. He’s a favourite composer of mine, a “musical illustrator” of fairy tales. There’s also a lovely orchestral suite from the opera, if I don’t have time for the full work. It’s lovely, sparkly, magical music.

Listen to the RSNO’s recording Rimsky-Korsakov: Overture and Suites from the Operas here.

Zeb – I will be on a flight to Mexico on Christmas Day, so will be learning plenty of Villancicos (Spanish carols)!

Do you have any special Christmas traditions?

James – My husband is Spanish so our Christmas is a mix of traditions. My favourite thing is the Dia de los Reyes – The Three Kings Festival on January 6th. We always throw a party and follow the Spanish tradition of a King’s Cake, and gift-giving. It’s a wonderful way to end the festivities.

Zeb – I very much enjoy the whole Dickensian Christmas: wrapping up against the cold, eating Christmas pudding, carol singing and being with family.

Christmas pudding or trifle?

James – Christmas pud for me – I love it. Also, Christmas cake and mince pies – I’d eat them all year round if I could!

Zeb – Pudding!

Find out about our musicians’ Christmas favourites here…

Swan Lake or The Nutcracker?

James – Actually, it’s Sleeping Beauty for me – I think it’s some of Tchaikovsky’s greatest music, and something I’ve painted to in concerts very often.

Zeb – The Nutcracker. I played a teddy-bear in a production at primary school. The zip got stuck on my faux-fur costume and I was BOILING.

In the book Peter is watching The Sound of Music, is this a festive favourite of yours?  

Zeb – I do love The Lonely Goat-Herd scene where Maria and the children present a puppet show for the Baroness — and when I was a very young child I briefly believed my mother was Julie Andrews. It was an instant choice for Peter the Cat’s favourite Christmas film.

In Gaspard’s Christmas there’s lots of snow in London – how do you think Gaspard would cope with the Scottish weather?

Zeb – Edinburgh and Glasgow have plenty of foxes, so he’d be fine. I’d love to show him Scotland.

You recorded the carol Christmas is Here at Scotland’s Studio in September – have you felt Christmassy ever since?!

Zeb – Yes! It was an incredible and moving feeling to hear the RSNO and their Youth Chorus perform Christmas is Here. I’d never written a song before. It will be played on Classic FM throughout December.

Stream Christmas is Here now!

The pictures in Gaspard’s Christmas are absolutely beautiful and we’re so excited to see you paint live at the concerts. Do you ever get nervous doing this?

James – ALWAYS! It’s particularly hard to recreate the feel of book illustrations when drawing at speed, and often things look different up on the screen, so I’ll be rehearsing a lot to help me feel confident on the day!

Is there a particular scene in the story that you’re looking forward to illustrating on stage?

James – I think the snowy city skyline will be fun, I can be quite free with that. But I expect the audience will be excited to see the characters appear, so I’m looking forward to their reactions as I draw live…

You can see Zeb present and James draw live on Friday 23 December in Edinburgh and Saturday 24 December in Glasgow. Tickets are sold out in Glasgow, but there are a few still available in Edinburgh, which can be booked here! 

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