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In 2018, the Verbier Festival and the Vareille Foundation joined forces for a pilot project in primary schools in the Canton of Valais. The musical tale Ma Mère l’Oye (Mother Goose) was presented in six performances over two days to 200 children aged 3 to 9. Teachers at the schools were joined by a guest illustrator in the days leading up to the performances to read and to create illustrations based on the stories. The Vareille Foundation and the Verbier Festival both aim to make the world of classical music accessible to everyone, everywhere. For children especially, they believe this should be done in a way that is both fun and inspires creativity. Three schools in the Canton of Valais took part in this pilot year of the Storytellers project, including one in Martigny where the Vareille Foundation offers violin lessons, one in Champsec, and one, quite naturally, in Verbier. The project will be presented again in 2019 in more schools throughout Valais.
Ma Mère l’Oye
Ma Mère l’Oye, Maurice Ravel’s suite of five pieces, was originally intended for piano-four hands. The Sleeping Beauty is briefly contemplated, Tom Thumb sows his seeds, the Beauty and the Beast dance to a waltz, the pagodas and pagodines sing and play instruments in the Laideronnette, Empress of the Pagodas, and the make-belief Fairy Garden forms a prologue.
The music was performed by a string quartet of young and talented musicians based in Switzerland. All have benefited from the training of the Academy and/or the orchestras of the Verbier Festival. Lausanne storyteller Claire Heuwekemeijer narrated the stories, intrinsically linked to the music. In parallel, illustrator Marc Philippin projected a stop-motion animation of illustrations created by participating students.