Composer Camille Saint-Saens refused to allow The Carnival Of The Animals to be performed in its entirety during his lifetime, feeling it was too frivolous.

But his 22-minute work has since become a favourite piece of music for introducing young people to classical music.

Tomorrow night the performance is being given an extra twist, as poet Roger McGough will introduce each of the 14 movements with a specially composed poem.

The subjects link with the theme of each movement and range from birds, donkeys and asses tothe royal entry of the lion and animals with big ears.

Some of the poems come from McGough's 1997 poetry collection Bad Bad Cats, while others were written especially for this event.

"I think this will appeal both to parents and to children," says McGough. "When I do children's shows I like it when parents come along too. I think the best poems appeal to both. When I do an adult reading I usually throw in a few children's poems too."

The poet was first invited to perform the work four years ago by Antony Lewis-Crosby, the former chief executive of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, who is now the managing director of the London Mozart Players. This is the first time McGough will have performed with the Croydon-based orchestra.

"What is nice about this piece is that the music is beautiful and the poems come in the silences between the movements," says McGough.

"It's not like Peter And The Wolf where you have to match the poem with the music. I did that once at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall and it was very difficult trying to get all the cues right."

With last year marking the 40th anniversary of The Mersey Sound, the best-selling poetry collection which brought Liverpool poets McGough, Brian Patten and Adrian Henri to a wider audience, McGough has been doing a lot of looking back.

His Collected Poems, published by Penguin in 2004, was followed up two years later by his autobiography Said And Done.

And music and poetry have often gone hand-in-hand in his career.

Following The Mersey Sound's success he scaled the dizzy heights of the pop charts with his band The Scaffold and their song Lily The Pink, as well as working with former Bonzo Dog Neil Innes in Grimms.

His latest children's book Slapstick features a revision of Lily The Pink and The Scaffold recently reunited for Liverpool's City Of Culture and released a Christmas record.

"It was called Three Shirts On The Lion," says McGough. "It was all about the football clubs Liverpool, Everton and Tranmere Rovers."

He feels poetry should be performed without the musical backing beloved by so many arts programmes.

"Often people are a bit afraid of broadcasting just the speech," he explains. "They want pictures with it or music. The audience don't lose interest though. I am a great believer in just performing the poems."

London Mozart Players' concert programme will also include Haydn's 83rd Symphony "The Hen" and Mozart's Double Piano Concerto.

  • 7.30pm, tickets from £12, 01424 229111