Violinist Eleanor Bartsch, a master's student at the University of Wisconsin Madison, performed a bit of Bach on Saturday night for an unlikely audience: Kelly and Viola, elephants who live together at the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin.
Bartsch performs with the Madison Symphony Orchestra and Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, among other ensembles, and was in Baraboo for a concert. The museum hosts concerts along with providing a home to the animals.
As anyone who has seen the Thai Elephant Orchestra may attest, elephants seem to have an affinity for music. In the mid-19th century, Barnum & Bailey circuses fielded "elephant bands." A century later, German evolutionary biologist Bernard Rensch found that elephants can distinguish 12 tones and could remember simple melodies even when played on different instruments or at different pitches. Wild stuff.