The English Symphony Orchestra completes their ground-breaking series of new storytelling works for narrator and orchestra with the world premiere broadcasts of two of the most popular stories by the Brothers Grimm: Hansel and Gretel (music by Thomas Kraines) narrated by Henry Goodman, and The Bremen Town Musicians (music by Kile Smith) narrated by Gemma Whelan.
Have you ever been on a long journey with your family and, after hours in the car or on the plane, you were so bored you thought you just might go mad? Well, that’s what this record is for. Just when you’re about to say “are we there yet” for the 400th time, instead try saying “Mum, can we listen to Lubin again?” I promise, the car will feel like it’s going twice as fast once the music starts. Now, it may come as a surprise to you, but your parents get just as bored and fed up as you do, so we’ve made sure they’ll enjoy these stories just as much as their kids. There are aspects to all five stories that we are pretty sure older listeners will connect with also. Thousands of young people at our concerts laugh at the exploits of Lubin, the hapless robbers in the Bremen Town Musicians or the grandiose Condessa Duck. But, if we’re able to put a smile on your face on a rainy afternoon at home, or help the trip to your summer holidays go a bit quicker, then we’ll all be very happy. Enjoy! Ken Woods
The Bremen Town Musicians
David Yang commissioned The Bremen Town Musicians for Auricolae in 2008. In 2016 the conductor Kenneth Woods, who as cellist performed and recorded Bremen with Auricolae, asked me to orchestrate it for his English Symphony Orchestra. I’ve adapted the Brothers Grimm story for my libretto, changing none of the salient features of this tale of four animals who, seeking fortune in the far city of Bremen, fall among thieves, outwit them, and find their good fortune as friends together, never arriving in Bremen. Kile Smith
The Ugly Duckling
When an aging Hans Christian Andersen was asked “why have you not written an autobiography?” he answered simply, “I have. It is called The Ugly Duckling.” Listeners who have grown up with the charming song sung by Danny Kaye in the 1950’s Andersen biopic may be surprised to learn that Andersen’s story is different in dozens of ways, right down to the colour of the Duckling’s feathers, which are, in fact, grey rather than “stubby and brown.” Kenneth Woods
Lubin, from Chelm
Lubin lived at home, with his mother. He was a bit of a schlemiel, laying around the house all day, not doing nothing… Until one day, his mamma said to him “Lubin, a real job you must get.” His ensuing adventures are proof positive that it is possible to fail your way to great success. Lubin, from Chelm is a hilarious re-telling of the traditional English folk tale, Lazy Jack, relocated to the shtetl and brought to life with abundantly witty Yiddish turns of phrase and evocative Klezmer musical stylings by American composer David “Yankele” Yang and orchestrated by Kenneth Woods.
The Warrior Violinist
In 2012 David Yang and his storytelling music troupe Auricolae asked me to write The Warrior Violinist, based on an Egyptian folk tale, for violin, cello and narrator. In the summer of 2020 Ken Woods asked me to prepare a version for this recording project. In addition to fleshing out harmonies, adding contrapuntal lines, and creating fuller and richer orchestral sonorities, I was able to expand the presence of the solo violin so it could more actively fulfil its role as the protagonist of the story. Jay Reise
Hansel and Gretel
I wrote Hansel and Gretel to perform with Auricolae in 2008, and orchestrated it a few years later, at the behest of Maestro Kenneth Woods. Perhaps in response to the gothic nature of the story, the piece is very selfconsciously Germanic. My gratitude and awe also go to Henry Goodman, whose nuanced and thrilling interpretation of the story elevates the piece immeasurably. Thomas Kraines