"Innocence and Despair" --The Langley Schools Music Project
    by John Cech

You're hearing nine-year-old Sheila Behman's cover for Don Henley's rock anthem, "Desperado," with her music teacher, Hans Fenger, accompanying her on the piano. It's from a recent CD called "Innocence and Despair, The Langley Schools Music Project," which collects 19 of the songs that were recorded in 1976 and 1977 by Mr. Fenger of his music classes in western Canada. Fenger was a rock guitarist who found himself, by necessity, teaching music in a rural school system, and he let his own instincts, and his students' passionate willingness to sing both dark and upbeat songs guide his selection and arrangement of material for them. It's a slightly off-tune, Carl Orff - Balinese rhythm band, with chorus, meeting the spirit of William Blake's poetry in "Songs of Innocence and Experience," all filtered through the idiom of rock. The kids do striking interpretations David Bowie's famous "Space Oddity" and Stevie Nicks' haunting "Rhiannon," they build their own wall of sound with Phil Spector's "To Know Him is to Love Him," and find the pensive heart of Brian Wilson's "In My Room." And my, oh my, are they into something good.

Copyright 2002 by John Cech

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Wednesday, 04-Sep-2002 22:19:45 EDT

"Recess!" is a co-production of the University of Florida's Center for Children's Literature and Culture and WUFT-FM, "Classic 89."