Playground Ensemble

8 Songs for a Mad King

1/29/2019 . 7:30pm . Colorado College Guest Artist Concert
Colorado College, Packard Hall, Colorado Springs
Free Show

2/17/2019 . 2pm . Boulder Public Library
With spoken word artist Serena Chopra (see below)
Boulder, CO
Free Show

2/22/2019 . 7:30pm . Metro State Guest Artist Concert
Metro State University, King Center, Auraria Campus
AHEC Box Office
$15 general entry, $12 seniors, $10 students

3/8/2019 . 7pm . Mercury Cafe
Denver, CO

Peter Maxwell Davies’ masterpiece Eight Songs for a Mad King was shocking, scandalous, and utterly captivating to audiences when it premiered in 1969. Its unconventional vocal techniques, bizarre theatricality, jarring juxtapositions of musical styles, and unflattering depiction of Mad King George III are as fresh, relevant, and  entertaining today as they were 50 years ago.

This performance – part theatrical and part musical performance – represents new ground for The Playground. The original piece calls for elaborate stage props (including human-sized bird cages), special lighting and costumes. The musical score alone is a work of art, with staves aligned in the shape of a bird cage, along with many other unconventional techniques designed to convey the unique vocal and musical styling.

Our performance will include guest appearances from some of our donors, complete with their own bird costumes and instrumentation. The singer plays the role of King George, while the flute, clarinet, violin and cello depict the birds that George believed he could teach to sing particular songs on command. Piano, harpsichord, and a large number of percussion instruments round out the instrumentation.

Boulder Public Library Show
We are happy to be joined by teacher, writer, dancer, filmmaker, soundscape designer and visual & performing artist, Serena Chopra. She has a PhD from the University of Denver and was a 2011-2013 Redline artist in Residence, as well as a 2016-2017 Fullbright Scholar (Bangalore, India) for which she is currently composing hybrid and interdisciplinary work that explores narratives of queer Indian and Indian American women, transmen and gender non-conforming folks. She has two books, This Human (Coconut Books 2013) and Ic (Horse Less Press 2017), as well as two films, Dogana/Chapti (2018, winner of ArtHyve’s Archives as Muse Film grant) and Mother Ghosting (2018). You can find out more at

Enjoy this video from our 8 Songs Indiegogo Campaign. Though the campaign is over, the video has information on this piece.