The centerpiece of the program is PADDINGTON BEAR’S FIRST CONCERT by the English composer, Herbert Chappell, a charming work that is in the best tradition of British “Light Music.” This genre is a British specialty and it is on a high musical level – entertaining, but finely crafted and conceived. You’ll find examples of this “Light Music” tradition in the film scores of Masterpiece Theatre works such as Downton Abbey and the Hercule Poirot series of TV films.
The quality of Paddington Bear’s First Concert is also an example of how seriously children’s literature and music for children are taken in England. Just think of all the beloved literary works by great English authors that have been written for children. On the musical side, think of what a great work Benjamin Britten’s YOUNG PERSON’S GUIDE TO THE ORCHESTRA is and of Britten’s works for youthful performers like NOYE’S FLUDDE.
PADDINGTON BEAR’S FIRST CONCERT has music that is jazzy and based on all the countries that Paddington Bear has traveled through. We have clever sections that are Peruvian, North African, Spanish, storm at sea music and Hungarian. There is also a gentle spoof of concert music and the Royal Albert Hall in London. This is a musically eventful and often toe-tapping piece.
It is also exciting to be working with the masterful Joyce Kulhawik as narrator and the boys of the Fenn School Treble Chorus and their teacher, Mike Salvatore. The boys are in the 4th, 5th and 6th grades at the Fenn School. These young gentlemen take their singing seriously and I’m enjoying working with them. We’ll be doing three Christmas Carol arrangements by Gustav Holst, another British composer, a piece that Mike Salvatore has always wanted to do. In the audience sing-alongs of Leroy Anderson’s CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL and RUDOLPH and WHITE CHRISTMAS, Joyce Kulhawik and the boys will be leading the way.
I should say that I see Christmas Carols as a vital part of the cultural heritage of Western Europe and America. Their origin is religious but for those people who are not Christian or religious at all, these songs and carols can bring festivity to this darkest time of the year when people come together to celebrate life and community.
Even if you don’t have children, this is a program that can be fully satisfying, charming and stimulating for the most sophisticated adult.