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Unconventional Composer Spins Music and Story From Extraordinary Whale Rescue
a symphony of whalesComposer and violinist Steve Schuch has a penchant for unconventional venues and uncommon accompanists. It is not unusual to find Schuch playing on a gusty mountaintop, in a sequestered sea cave, or in the shadows of a Celtic ruin on the shores of Loch Ness. Seeking true to life sound effects for a rendition of "The Twelve Days of Christmas," he lugged his recording equipment to a New Hampshire farm, where an obliging cow lent some verisimilitude to the lyric "eight maids a milking."

So it comes as no surprise that Schuch's latest project celebrates a real life whale rescue involving thousands of Beluga whales off the coast of Siberia. The whales were trapped in the ice flows and faced certain death, until resourceful villagers played classical music to lure them to freedom. The incident inspired Schuch to write a piece for violin and whales called "Whale Trilogy," as well as a book for young readers, A Symphony of Whales (Harcourt Brace; $16.00, hardcover).

symphony of whalesThe book has been featured on National Public Radio's "Performance Today," won five national book awards and attracted the interest of symphony orchestras across the country.

Schuch first learned about the little known rescue when he was touring Alaska in the dead of winter. While performing in native villages on the Arctic Circle and surviving an emergency plane landing on a frozen river, dog sled rides in 40 below temperatures, and his first taste of llama lasagna Schuch found time to write the "Whale Trilogy." "This piece for violin and whales is really a musical telling of the rescue," the composer explains. "It came out of listening to recordings of whales, being moved by the rescue, and wanting to express my feelings on the violin."

Schuch has recorded the "Whale Trilogy," and performed it widely, everywhere from schools and town halls to The Kennedy Center. When a children's book editor ran across a live recording of the piece, she tracked down the New Hampshire musician and asked him to write a book based on the rescue story. A Symphony of Whales is the result.

The book tells the story of the rescue and a young girl named Glashka who hears the plaintive call of the whales before the other villagers. Schuch says he created Glashka because "many children, like writers and musicians, hear music and voices in their heads, and I wanted to tell this story through the eyes (and ears) of such a child."

Steve Schuch, who devotes equal time to performances and workshops for children and adults, stresses the importance of sparking the creativity and curiosity of the next generation. With both the "Whale Trilogy" and A Symphony of Whales he is doing just that.

Like a growing number of other artists, Schuch donates a percentage of the royalties from book and CD sales to world hunger and environmental groups.

[This release may be quoted or downloaded in its entirety for press purposes. See also An Author's Interview and Artist Bio and choice of publicity photos.]

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