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VAA New Works Showcases Student Music Project

Chautauqua music teacher Andy James and his Chautauqua student production team have produced a new CD based on West African folk tale, Nana Miriam; the story of a magical girl who saves her people. The all-student cast produced a one hour show that will include singing, drumming, and narration this Sunday, June 12, 2 p.m., at the Blue Heron, as part of VAA New Works Series. CDs will be available at the performance.

            Nana Miriam drew student talent of all ages with a core group of about 35 kids. They did everything from writing lyrics and music to playing instruments including drums, xylophones, violin and cello. “The music draws on rhythmic African styles,” adds James.

            The story centers on a father, a strong man of the village past his prime, and his daughter who steps up to help villagers deal with a threatening monster. “These are cultural archetypes and dealing with monsters is a big deal at this age,” says James. The monster takes the form of a hippo that can sing.

            “…Students thought a lot about the monster. In the real story Nana Miriam smashes the monster against the rocks, but this wasn’t satisfactory for my students,” explains James. “So they changed the end of the story, but I’m not giving it away!”

            Working with Vashon Artists in Schools program, Bill Moyer, Lelavision, Geoff Johns and Kim Newall collaborated with James and students. Bunraku puppets, crafted from plywood, incorporate the kids’ drawings.

            Tickets are $7/$10, available now at Blue Heron, Heron’s Nest and Books by the Way. Call 463.5131 to purchase by phone.