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The global project
On the occasion of the bicentenary of Hans Christen Andersen in 2005, Edition·S initiated a large-scaled, global partnership program, Symphonic Fairytales. After four years of preparation and a considerable investment of a good half million Euros, the project was ready for global launch on the very day, April 2nd, 2005.
Ten Danish composers created ten new orchestral works for the occasion. The new works were premiered throughout the year of 2005 by a large number of orchestras worldwide, from Hanoi to Santiago de Chile, from Sydney for Reykjavik. More than seventy performances of the new works were enjoyed by tens of thousands of children and their families, and the music was broadcasted to approximately 200 million TV viewers and radio listeners.
Four concepts for family concerts
Symphonic Fairytales is based on the idea of diversifying the family concert format. Four different concepts were developed and formed the points of departure for the composers in creating the new music:
The integrated work is a large-scale concept that integrates children in the performance, be it as choir singers or e.g. percussion players. This concept is very demanding to realize, not only for the composer, but also for the concert organization. It takes a strong network of music education institutions in the local community; it takes enthusiastic pioneer spirit, and it takes a professional orchestra backbone that can and will handle the unusually large workload that comes with this sort of project. But: it is extremely rewarding, once it works – its effect in terms of community outreach impact is huge and long-lasting. John Frandsen’s The Shadow, Bent Lorentzen’s The Tinder-Box and Svend Nielsen’s The Swine Heard and Svend Hvidtfelt Nielsen’s Thumbelina are examples of such works, but also Lorentzens ambitious comic-strip oratorio, Comics (an earlier works from before the launch of Symphonc Fairytales, written in 1987) has shown its sustainability with a large number of performances with German orchestras over the years.
The read tale with narration and orchestral accompaniment is a well-known format for children’s concerts – Peter and the Wolf being the great classic in this genre. Symphonic Fairytales comprises several works of the kind, e.g. Fuzzy’s The Travelling Companion and Morten Olsen’s The little Match-Girl and Other Tales.
The Orchestral Lied is best suited for a mature audience. Experienced symphonic composers such as Sven Erik Werner and Ib Nørholm have contributed to the catalogue with inventive compositions that use both poems, personal letters and travel diaries of Andersen, showing his highly complex and interesting personality.
The purely instrumental Tone Poem doesn’t work well for a children audience, but goes much better with the patience and conscious listening sensors of young people and adults. Jesper Koch works out the complicated, dream-like aspects of The Snow Queen in an almost 30 minute long compositions for full orchestra.
The Edition·S catalogue of works for a family audience will continue to grow in the future, in close collaboration with the orchestra and the communities that not only surround them, but also are simply an integrated part of their lives.