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A Symphony of Whales
  Program Options:
  Full Orchestra Version
  String Chamber Version
  Outreach Workshop
A Multimedia Orchestral Production
In the winter of 1984-1985, nearly 3,000 whales were found trapped in the Senyavina Straight of Siberia. With the bitter cold, the water was freezing rapidly...

In this work, award-winning musician and author Steve Schuch has taken the inspiration of a real life event - the musical rescue of these trapped whales - and conjured a truly memorable tale.  A Symphony of Whales has received five national book awards. The accompanying music has been featured on cable networks, 'Morning Pro Musica,' and NPR's 'Performance Today.'

Program Outline
A typical concert may include a combination of the following:

1) Orchestral Selections
Orchestral Selections chosen by the Conductor or Musical Director. Suggested pieces with an ocean/animal/nautical theme may include:

Zimmerman's "Anchors Away"
Handel's "Water Music"
The Little Mermaid Suite
John Williams' "Jaws" orchestral arrangement
Smetana's "Die Moldau"
Gliere's "The Russian Sailor's Dance"

children's book 2) A Symphony of Whales
Steve Schuch joins the orchestra as guest violinist and narrator. This story takes place in the depths of a Siberian winter. For most of the story, the orchestra plays on a darkened stage with lights on their music stands (think Stokowski conducting "Fantasia"). Stage lighting focuses on the Conductor, Steve Schuch as Narrator (and solo violinist at the outset). A darkened stage also allows the slide images to show up more dramatically.

Opening Scene
Lights down, fog machine swirling, the whale songs come on over the sound system. Bathed in pale blue light and fog, Steve Schuch plays the opening of his Whale Trilogy (mp3 2.2MB) for solo violin and whales. He sets down his violin and begins narrating the first paragraphs of the book. The whale songs fade out and the first slides appear overhead.

For the middle parts of the story, the orchestra performs Mendelssohn's "Hebrides Overture" as a soundtrack to the story narration. The slides continue on a large screen overhead; the whale songs move in and out following the story line.

When the Soviet icebreaker appears, the orchestra plays a short excerpt of Gliere's "The Russian Sailor's Dance." Later the icebreaker plays other music in an attempt to guide the whales to safety. Audiences are treated to an energetic burst of Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze," arranged for orchestra, followed by a traditional Russian folk song, "The Bright Moon is Shining."

Steve has composed short solos for the principal orchestra players. These serve both to entice the whales, and to allow young concert goers to experience orchestral instruments and their sounds. The original music and story build together to the joyous finale, with full brass, winds, strings, percussion and whales.

3) Additional Steve Schuch pieces (optional)*
In most concerts, Steve Schuch returns for one of his solo violin pieces, an additional story, or a song with the audience. For younger audiences, a participatory piece is suggested. Options include:

Songs from Trees of Life CD
Scottish-Baroque Fantasy (solo violin)
Picasso Pizzicato (solo violin)
The Gift of the Wee Folk, Abiyoyo & Other Tales

4) An Author/Composer Book/CD Signing
An Author/ Composer Book/ CD Signing generally follows the concert.

5) Whale Songs of the Deep (pre-concert presentation or separate workshop)
Like a symphony, whale songs may last 20-30 minutes. In their haunting complexity, we humans glimpse the eons of whale evolution. How were these songs discovered and recorded? How does sound travel underwater? What are some ways humans and whales have shared music together?

This warm up presentation is a definite draw for audiences. Whales Songs of the Deep is also available as a separate workshop.

Contact Night Heron Music for bookings and to receive a Full Score, demo CD, Production Notes, and Script.

Technical Requirements


Night Heron Music
72 Meeting Hill Rd.
Hillsborough, NH 03244
(603) 464-4321

whalesong_long.mp3 (2.2MB)

NPR Interview
(6.5 MB)

"Riveting indeed."
- Smithsonian

"Exceptionally fine... Schuch brings as much intelligence and skill to folk music as he does to classical."
- The Boston Globe

Night Heron Music • 72 Meeting Hill Road, Hillsborough, NH 03244 • USA
• ph (603) 464-4321 •

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