Gemma Whelan (Doug Peters EMPics Entertainment)

The English Symphony Orchestra releases Fiddles, Forests and Fowl Fables today, including my 14-minute work for narrator and chamber orchestra, The Bremen Town Musicians, narrated by Gemma Whelan, the British actress and comedian known for her work in Game of Thrones. Kenneth Woods conducts.

The stellar lineup includes Hugh Bonneville narrating The Ugly Duckling by Kenneth Woods, Davood Ghadami narrating The Warrior Violinist by Jay Reise, and Henry Goodman narrating two works, Hansel and Gretel by Thomas Kraines, and Lubin, from Chelm by David Yang, orchestrated by Woods.

And it is the multi-talented David Yang we have to thank for these works. David is a violist, director of Chamber Music at the University of Pennsylvania, and founder and director of the Newburyport Chamber Music Festival. He commissioned all these works for Auricolae, his ensemble of violin, cello, and himself as narrator. Auricolae means “little ears,” and he envisioned new musical settings of old stories for children’s concerts.

Auricolae premiered The Bremen Town Musicians in 2008. They performed it dozens of times and recorded it, and it has since been taken up by other ensembles across the country, as far away as Australia and Qatar, and just presented in the Philadelphia Orchestra “Our City, Your Orchestra” chamber music series (which you can see here). Ken Woods, one of the first cellists to perform Bremen with Auricolae, asked me to orchestrate it for his English Symphony Orchestra. They premiered it in 2016, and it comes out on this CD today.

The 2-disc set on Nimbus Records is available many places and here from the ESO. It’s also on Spotify. Here’s the trailer for The Bremen Town Musicians, complete with illustrations from ESO Youth Orchestra members and students from the Chadsgrove School.