December 17, 2019

A Harmonious Collaboration

Denver Zoo and the Colorado Symphony Teamed Up to Do Something Special for Their Animals and Musicians with Unexpected Results

Recently, an unusual sound snapped the early morning calm at Denver Zoo—a string quartet from the Colorado Symphony playing Mozart Divertimento No. 3 in G major in front of the giraffe habitat. The flawless sounds of two violins, one viola and a cello radiated across the yard, immediately catching the attention of the entire herd. Dobby, the Zoo’s famous two-year-old giraffe, with his ears perked up and neck craned in curiosity, quickly ventured over to investigate the sounds and musicians.

“We didn’t know what to expect. So, we weren’t sure if they would be nervous, excited, or bouncy, which is a sign of excitement,” said Denver Zoo Giraffe Keeper Amanda Faliano. “Dobby showed a lot of cool behaviors. Sometimes he would kick, and sometimes he was just watching on high alert, both of which are signs of excitement and interest.”

Colorado Symphony Violinist Larisa Fesmire added, “I never thought our classical career would be at the Zoo. I’m glad they seemed to like the music more than my dogs do at home when I’m practicing!”

Musicians from the Colorado Symphony went on to play impromptu concerts for other animals around the Zoo, including Tensing, 11, the pregnant greater one-horned rhino, and the Zoo’s Sumatran orangutan family made up of Berani, 26, Nias, 31, Hesty, 9, and Cerah, 1. All the animals involved—humans and nonhumans, alike—expressed amazement and enjoyment in what turned out to be an experiment to prove that music is, indeed, a universal language.

“We love finding ways to work with fellow Science and Cultural Facilities District organizations, especially when there’s an opportunity to do something unique and unexpected for our animals, guests, staff and the entire community,” said Jake Kubié, Director of Communications at Denver Zoo. “That was certainly the case with this collaboration—and I think it’s something everyone is really going to love!”

For both Denver Zoo and the Colorado Symphony, it was a harmonious partnership forged by a shared sense of community, and an example of how two seemingly different cultural organizations can collaborate to do something fun, positive and memorable.

"We're so fortunate to have a robust group of local arts, non-profit, and cultural organizations that combine to make Denver a vibrant and enriching city," said Parker Owens, Chief Marketing Officer for the Colorado Symphony. "We believe it's imperative to foster collaboration between these organizations, and relish the opportunity to put our musicians in environments and situations that are outside the norm of performances in the concert hall. The opportunity to play music for these animals was a memory maker for our musicians; and we hope our fans, too, won't soon forget."

Denver Zoo and the Colorado Symphony will join forces yet again on March 15, 2020 for ”Carnival of the Animals” at Boettcher Concert Hall. One of the best-known pieces by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns, each movement depicts a different animal, some of which will make appearances on stage during the performance thanks to the Zoo, making for a truly fantastic family experience for all ages.

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