Children's entertainer Peter Combe is teaming up with the Adelaide Youth Orchestra to perform a one-off Christmas concert.
Songs from 1990's Peter Combe's Christmas Album, hits from his back catalogue and seasonal classics will be presented, with support from his Belly Flop and a Pizza Band, plus dancers and singers from St Peter's Girls School.
The arrangements are still being finalised for the Saturday, December 2 concert at Dunstan Playhouse in thee Adelaide Festival Centre.
Peter described the orchestra as comprising of "really classy players".
"Orchestras add a whole dimension to the music.... Because the songs are so melodic, they take to string arrangements well," he said.
Peter has recorded 20 studio albums including Songs for Little Kids, Spaghetti Bolognaise, Toffee Apple, Newspaper Mama and Chopsticks. Among his biggest hits are Wash your Face in Orange Juice (Mr Clicketty Cane), Juicy Juicy Green Grass (A Sheep's Lament), The Silly Postman and several album title tracks.
He has a plaque on Adelaide Festival Centre's Walk of Fame, and in 2020 he received an Order of Australia Medal for his contribution to the performing arts.
While the Christmas album is more than 30 years old, Peter shared it almost didn't happen.
"The ABC was reluctant to do it because they thought 'do you really want to do an album of totally original Christmas songs? No Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, no Frosty the Snowman, no Silent Night?' My reaction was ' if I can't do all my songs, I don't want to do the album at all'."
It's since gone on to be one of his most successful records.
"People do lovely things; they put up their Christmas tree with the album playing. It's become a bit of a family tradition for a lot of families, which is really lovely."
Peter was born in Adelaide in October 1948 and taught himself to play guitar. He became a primary school teacher and later a specialist music teacher, writing songs for his students to sing and operettas for his classes to perform.
He was a co-presenter on BBC TV show Music Time, which was broadcast on ABC TV, and Let's Have Music, a radio program used in the Australian primary school music education curriculum. His second album Songs for Little Kids - now retitled Wash Your Face In Orange Juice - was his first children's album, noted for songs that were humorous and relevant, and appealed to children and adults. He arranged the songs with contemporary instrumentation, using his Music Time background to introduce children to different musical concepts, genres and instruments.
Kids' humour and the surrounding environment were among the song's inspirations.
"When you're having classes of 30-odd kids four or five times a day, you get onto a child's wavelength... humour was a big part of it, but also everyday things around you were instrumental in helping me to write songs," he said.
For example, the line "Unlike a yoyo craze unlike a marble phase" in Spaghetti Bolognaise was inspired by him watching two boys playing marbles on the ground when he was teaching at Scotch College in 1981.
He said good children's music should have a timeless quality to them and elements that make them adult-friendly.
"What I've learned over the years is never to underestimate a child. Children will enjoy all sorts of music if it's done tastefully. I love introducing kids to different instruments and styles, including folk, jazz, rock, everything. Bottom line - don't ever underestimate a child:"
Peter also has a folk band called Fossils where they perform songs that he grew up with, including The Beatles, Leonard Cohen, Simon & Garfunkel and Don McLean.
His family seem to enjoy the music; each child Joni, Alice, Emily and Thomas 'Thom' has performed with him over the years. His most recent album Planet Earth 3rd from the Sun, released in September, features all seven of his grandchildren on it - either singing or speaking on it, and his granddaughter Charlie designed the front cover art. The album was nominated for an ARIA Award.
Outside of entertainment, Peter enjoys family time with his wife Carol and their children and grandchildren, visiting Carrickalinga - which he wrote a song about and has a holiday home at - plus playing tennis, running, reading and exercise.
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