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May Festival, Chamber Orchestra specials premiere on WCET-TV this spring

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WCET-TV celebrates the 150th anniversary of the May Festival with a TV special in May.

As the May Festival prepares for its 150th anniversary, WCET-TV will celebrate the milestone with a special called The City That Sings: Cincinnati’s May Festival May 6.

It's one of two new programs from Cincinnati's public television station, which also will premiere a modern twist on French composer Camille Saint-Saens' 1886 Carnival of the Animals on April 1.

The City That Sings is being produced and directed by Richard Wonderling, the WPTD-TV senior producer who oversaw Cincinnati Music Hall: The Next Movementspecial in 2017 about the massive Music Hall renovation.

His new film will "focus on the engaging personalities and experiences" of the people who comprise today’s May Festival Chorus, he says.

"Through a series of deeply moving and personal profiles, audiences will recognize that the traditions which built the May Festival are not isolated ideals plucked from a dusty past, but rather the love and respect for music excellence was then, and now, the driver of the chorus. Importantly, when it comes to the May Festival, the past truly is the present," is how he describes the program.

The May Festival opens May 19at Music Hall.

In Carnival of the Animals: Remix, the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra updates the 137-year-old suite with a new arrangement for a chamber orchestra.

The program, for children ages 3 to 8, "will take viewers and listeners through a journey around the world, visiting all seven continents and the animals and musical styles of each region" with a "variety of multi-dimensional art forms and musical styles — as well as introducing a lineup of new animal characters," according to information provided by WCET-TV.

The original Carnival consisted of 14 short movements ranging in length from one to four minutes. The pieces include "Royal March of the Lion," "Hens and Roosters," "Wild Donkeys," "The Elephant" "Aquarium" "Fossils" and "The Swan."

Carnival of the Animals: Remix airs 7 p.m. on WCET-TV (Channel 48) at 7 p.m. Saturday April 1 and 1 p.m. Sunday April 2, and on CET Arts (Channel 48.3) at 9 p.m. on Sunday April 9.

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.