Educational Outreach Music
These Interactive compositions for young audiences + their families feature original music, exciting tales of bravery, and opportunities for audiences to learn about music and a whole lot more. Each piece is scored for narrator and chamber ensemble, and includes a song for audiences to sing along with the musicians as well as numerous cross-disciplinary curricular connections. Originally commissioned by the Portland (Maine) Symphony's nationally-prominent KinderKonzert program, the pieces have been performed for thousands of children across the country by orchestra outreach ensembles and independent chamber groups at schools, libraries, and performing arts centers. See below for more information!
Fire in the Big-Top!
for narrator* and brass quintet
*If a separate narrator is not available, the spoken part may be modified to allow it to be performed by a member of the quintet.
“I liked the scary part where the big top caught on fire. It made my heart beat.”
“I remember the tiger crawling on its belly to avoid the smoke.”
-comments by children, quoted in the Bangor Daily News
Duration: Full Show: 45 minutes. (Story only: 35 minutes)
Note: Fire in the Big-Top! may be cut to fit shorter time-frames, as needed.
Intended audiences: Grades K-5
In this exciting original tale, two courageous young children save their town when a fire breaks out at the circus. Along the way, they meet the ringmaster (the narrator), watch the circus parade, hear an original ragtime tune, and even come face-to-face with a Bengal tiger - who ends up helping them in ways they never could have imagined! Set in Portland, Maine in 1906, the geographical and historical setting may be changed as appropriate.
During the performance, the children are encouraged to help the narrator by making “fire sounds” and also to sing along with the Ringmaster to an original circus march. Integrated into the narrative is an optional section in which the performers demonstrate their instruments as members of the circus band, using musical examples drawn from the composition.
1.) STEM connections in physical science, such as combustion, oxidation, conservation of energy, etc.
2.) Fire safety: In performances in Massachusetts and California, real firefighters have attended the shows, demonstrating their equipment and distributing information to reinforce these principles. The photos at the top of this page are from a performance that took place inside a fire house!
Article from Keep Me Current on the Portland Symphony's performance
Lighthouse Keeper: The Story of Abbie Burgess
for narrator and string quintet (or quartet)
Performances by outreach chamber ensembles from the Portland Symphony Orchestra, Long Beach Symphony Orchestra, and Sebago-Long Lake Chamber Music Festival. Upcoming performances by Palaver Strings and Aurea Ensemble, plus the premiere of the string quartet version in New York and Maine by the Cassatt Quartet.
Duration: Full Show: 50 minutes. (Story only: 40 minutes)
Note: Lighthouse Keeper may be cut to fit shorter time-frames, as needed.
Intended audiences: Grades K-5
Based upon the inspiring, true story of Abbie Burgess Grant (subject of the classic children’s book Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie) the teenager who heroically tended a lighthouse off the Maine coast during one of the greatest Nor’easters of the nineteenth century, saving the lives of countless sailors. The courage and determination of this young girl in the face of extraordinary adversity made her a cult hero in 19th-century America.
In this interactive performance, children sing along with the narrator (Abbie), urging her to face her fears as she climbs the lighthouse stairs, chips the ice off the great windows high above the raging sea, and steadies her hand as she lights the wicks of the great beacon. Under the direction of a teacher, they can construct and color meteorological flags before the performance in order to wave at the appropriate times to signal the increasing intensity of the storm. Integrated into the narrative is an optional section in which the performers speak about and demonstrate their instruments, playing the key themes in the composition and teaching the students about when to wave the appropriate weather flags.
1.) Meteorology. In particular, children learn about the four degrees of intensity of maritime storms by constructing and waving the appropriate flags.
2.) Nineteenth-century American history and culture, particularly the role of women in society.