Press Release: The Omaha Symphony Presents Roaring Performances with Carnival of the Animals

OMAHA, Neb., Nov. 6, 2020—Experience the musicians of the Omaha Symphony—featured in various combinations, thanks to a diverse set of uniquely orchestrated works—as they bring audiences on a journey through beloved virtuosic music that will lift them from reality. Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals takes center stage at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 13 at the Holland Performing Arts Center Peter Kiewit Concert Hall.

Led by Music Director Thomas Wilkins, the program showcases virtuosic performances from individual musicians and sections of the Omaha Symphony. "Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man puts all ears on the incredible coordination of our brass and percussion sections, and Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals has a highlight for everyone, from flute down to the double basses,” said Omaha Symphony Vice President of Artistic Administration Dani Meier of the upcoming Centennial Overtures performance. “Haydn's Symphony No. 83 exemplifies the way flexibility and availability were paramount in the 18th century, as his pieces always seemed to be performed hot off the press and used whatever instruments happened to be present."

This will be the last chance for audiences to see Maestro Thomas Wilkins leading the Omaha Symphony live at the Holland Performing Arts Center in 2020–Wilkins ends his 16-year tenure as Music Director of the Omaha Symphony in 2021. “It’s bittersweet to be wrapping up my post in Omaha during the 2020-21 season, which has turned out to be an uncertain time for us all” said Wilkins. “I’m incredibly proud of the musicians for the resilience and excellence they have shown, performing beautifully under such strange circumstances. I’m also touched by the outpouring of support for the orchestra that we’ve seen from our Omaha community, and am thrilled to have the opportunity to bring live music back.”


COPLAND: Fanfare for the Common Man
DUKAS: Fanfare to La Peri
HAYDN: Symphony No. 83, "The Hen"
SAINT-SAENS (arr. HOLCOMBE): Carnival of the Animals
Poetry by Jack Prelutsky

Written in 1886, Carnival of the Animals was not supposed to be the work that Saint-Saëns was most known for, as it is today; he delighted in writing it, but wanted to keep it for exclusive amusement at small parties for his friends. At 14 movements long, the zoological-inspired suite was performed for selective audiences, but he refused to allow its publishing during his lifetime, lest it take away attention from his more “serious” compositions. Luckily, the composer allowed the work to be published posthumously, and it is now among the most recognized in the repertory.

Originally written for a small, mixed ensemble with two pianos, the Omaha Symphony will perform a version of the work orchestrated by Bill Holcombe that utilizes the entire symphony orchestra. Also featured as part of the symphony’s performance of Carnival will be KVNO’s Otis XII as narrator, reading Jack Prelutsky’s accompanying poetry. While not always performed with narration, Prelutsky’s poetry adds additional depth, context, and narrative to the work–and Otis XII will be a welcome addition for many Omahans who have listened to his iconic and soothing voice on the radio for years.

Otis XII, also known as Doug Wesselmann, has enjoyed an eclectic career that includes stints as a trainee Benedictine monk, a stand-up comedian, a writer, TV critic, and a radio host. An award-winning novelist, his titles include “On the Albino Farm” and “Sometimes a Prozac Notion,” which were shortlisted for the 2003 and 2004 British Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Awards respectively. A Creighton alumnus and fixture in the 1970’s Omaha rock scene, Wesselmann returned to Omaha and radio in 2006 when he accepted his current post with KVNO.

The program will be rounded out with the second of Haydn’s six Paris symphonies, Symphony No. 83, “The Hen”; Dukas’ Fanfare to La Peri, a beautiful dance poem which Dukas almost destroyed in a fit of perfectionism; and Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, a showpiece for brass originally commissioned by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s sixth music director, Eugene Goossens.

Tickets for Carnival of the Animals are $35. Tickets can be purchased by visiting, through the Ticket Omaha app, or by calling Ticket Omaha at 402.345.0606. Performance dates are subject to change. In the event of performance changes or cancellations, the Omaha Symphony will email ticket holders to inform them of new dates and ticketing options. Patrons with questions may email The Omaha Symphony also regularly posts performance updates at, along with the Omaha Symphony’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages. Patrons can sign up for the latest updates at

Performances at the Holland Performing Arts Center feature physically distanced seating and will only be seated at a maximum of 30 percent capacity. Masks are required at indoor Omaha Symphony performances. The following changes have been implemented within the venue:

  • Enhanced Cleaning & Sanitation - Electrostatic technology disinfecting large common areas, enhanced sanitizing of high touch surfaces with hospital grade disinfectant and hand sanitizing stations throughout the venue
  • Heating and Cooling System – Upgrades to air handling units includes bipolar ionization filtering out viruses through ventilation
  • Staff Precautions – Staff and volunteers are required to wear face masks and receive temperature checks. Anyone with a temperature above 100° or experiencing symptoms will not be permitted onsite.
  • Touchless Experience - Faster and more efficient entry into the venues with touchless security checks, ticket scanning and cashless transactions

Find the most up to date public health information at

This performance is sponsored by Omaha Steaks. KVNO is the media partner for this performance.

The Omaha Symphony is a non-profit organization that presents more than 100 live orchestral performances from September through June. In addition to Masterworks, Symphony Pops, Symphony Rocks, Movies, Symphony Joslyn, and Family series concerts, the Omaha Symphony’s nationally recognized education and community engagement programs touch the lives of more than 40,000 people each year. For tickets or information regarding the Omaha Symphony, call 402-345-0606 or visit Programs, artists, dates, times, prices, and availability are subject to change.