RIFLE, Colorado - Call classical pianist Linda Jenks by name Friday and she may not respond.
Until she's greeted as Cybele.
The Doctor of Musical Arts is channeling her inner French mademoiselle with the Parisian pseudonym to help support the Rifle Animal Shelter. She and the Western Slope Performers will do their best French impressions as part of the fourth annual Cat's Meow concert. Themed "April in Paris," the event takes place at 7 p.m. Friday in the Clough Auditorium on Colorado Mountain College's Rifle campus.
"I started learning la belle langue in eighth grade, and have tried to keep the sounds of the French language as part of my life ever since," said Jenks, who helps organize the popular fundraiser each year. "For my entire life, I have wanted to visit Paris. For me, the French language is like another kind of beautiful music. I like the way the French construct their sentences, choose their words, inflect their voices - and of course, shrug their shoulders."
Jenks headlines the show on piano while the Western Slope Performers, a diverse group of musicians and performers that includes a French-Canadian vocalist, entertain.
"Chris Sullivan is Quebecoise, so of course every concert she wows us with her beautiful French singing," Jenks said. "This year all the other singers have also included at least a little French in their performances."
Jenks said she enjoys creating the show each spring in tandem with her creative colleagues.
"Every year, I ask them, 'What would you like to do this year?' Then I try to organize their selections around a connecting theme," she said. "The most rewarding part is getting a chance, at least once a year, to make music with my friends and share that music with other friends. It also offers me an opportunity to play the music that is near and dear to my heart - classical music. I don't often get to send that beautiful music out into the universe. I'd like to do it more often."
A classically trained pianist and lifelong animal lover, Jenks said she is thrilled to help the shelter by sharing her musical talents with the Rifle community.
"Music helps us to connect to something that is personal and universal at the same time," she said. "Mahatma Ghandi used to say something along the lines of, 'You can judge the worth of a society by the way it treats the animals that live in the society.' As I get older, it seems to me our society is becoming meaner, crueler, more inured to violence and crudeness. I think when we support events like this concert, and when we support organizations like the Friends of the Rifle Animal Shelter, we help to restore a needed balance. We help to foster a sense that all living creatures can suffer, and if it's in our power to prevent or alleviate that suffering, then it's our responsibility and our privilege to do so."
Jenks said in past years, Cat's Meow audiences have typically been a festive bunch arriving in costume through their own inclination to get in the animal shelter-fundraising spirit. This year, the event is offering prizes for best animal and Parisian attire.
Cybele will no doubt be dressed to the nines.
Tickets are a suggested donation of $10 for adults and $8 for seniors and children younger than 12, available at the door. For more information, call 625-2333.