Once Upon a Symphony
Educational program for full orchestra or chamber ensemble
Full orchestra – *2222 – 3221 – t+2 – hp – str – narrator
Chamber ensemble – 1111 – 1*111 – hp – 1p – strings (*1 per part) – narrator
James M. Stephenson
Once Upon a Symphony, based on Compose yourself!
instrumentation: 1111 – 1*111 – hp – 1p – strings (*1 per part) – Narrator
Trombone/tuba can be interchangeable, but it is preferred to have both
Strings can be augmented for more of a chamber orchestra approach if desired, but one per part works fine.
In 2002, after prodding from his colleagues, James (Jim) M. Stephenson composed “Compose Yourself!” to be used for young-audience concerts by the orchestra in which he was playing: the Naples Philharmonic. The piece was an interactive and engaging showcase for the orchestra, demonstrating the instruments and sections of the orchestra with a fast-paced script and exciting demonstrations of the sounds of a symphony. The highlight of the piece was a demonstration of how composers put melody, harmony, and rhythm together, culminating with volunteers from the audience composing and premiering a new piece of music on the spot. Compose Yourself! – in its original form – has been a successful educational demonstration for orchestras across the globe, with now over 350 performances having taken place in the last 20 years.
Looking for further ways to engage the audience, Stephenson wrote a new and fanciful story to go along with the music already composed. This new story became “Once Upon a Symphony”, and tells the story of
Sally and her adventurous trip with her grandfather. They encounter all sorts of delightful musical treats on their journey, with visual and sonic delights surrounding them at every turn. Sally also learns how to compose a piece of music, and ultimately the tale of her travels with grandpa indeed become the dream of a lifetime.
~ Jim Stephenson; July 24, 2021