*THE BEAR (an animated film) op.496 (March 1998)

Songs and score for an animated film made for Channel 4 featuring the song 'Somewhere a star shines for everyone', sung on the film by 'discovery' Charlotte Church.
Published by: Highbridge Music Ltd
Commissioned by: Channel 4/TVC/Miramax
Instrumentation: Girl soprano, tenor, bass 2121 2111 2pc pno/cel hp str
[Key to Abbreviations]
Note on Lyrics: Lyrics by Howard Blake
Duration: 26 mins
First Performance: Recorded 30/31 March 1998 Whitfield Street Studios sound engineer Mike Ross, Girl soprano (Charlotte Church), tenor (Philip Sheffield), bass (Peter Knapp) and orchestra
Recordings Available
The Bear
Released: 1998
Recorded: 30th March 1998
Artists: Charlotte Church (soprano), Sinfonia of London conducted by Howard Blake
Available from: Highbridge Music

The Snowman & The Bear
Recorded: 14th December 2003
Artists: City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong. Anthony Inglis (conductor), Jim Chim (narrator)

Channel 4/Miramax animated film released on DVD 1999


Film based on the book by Raymond Briggs, directed by Hilary Audus, produced by John Coates

The animated film of 'The Bear' was made by the same team that made ‘The Snowman’ based again on a story by Raymond Briggs and first shown on Channel 4 TV on Christmas Eve 1998. It is like a companion-piece to ‘The Snowman’ except that the hero is a small girl – sung on the film by Charlotte Church.

A young girl, Tilly, visits the zoo with her mum and dad, but accidentally drops her best loved toy into the polar bear's pit. That night, Tilly cries herself to sleep, only to wake and find a huge polar bear standing over her- he's come to return her precious teddy.

So begins a magical friendship with some bear-size complications, the biggest problem being how to keep such an enormous pet hidden from her parents. Everything changes when The Bear hears a call of the wild from the spirit of The Great Bear who descends from the constellation in the sky to embark on an extraordinary night adventure across the City of London.

The Polar Bear is represented by a tenor and the Star-Bear by a bass-baritone. All three singers join in the song ‘Somewhere a star shines for everyone’, sung as they skate down the frozen Thames and again at the end.


25th December 2011
- 26th December 2011

Boxing Day 8.00am Ch.4 TV: A showing of the original animated film of The Bear

10th December 2011

The City of Hong Kong Chamber Orchestra will be giving 3 all-Howard Blake concerts before Christmas conducted by Colin Touchin with narrators Jacqueline Gourley and Henry Coombs. Programme will be The Snowman and The Bear, both with projected film 2.30 and 5.00 on 10.12.11 at Hong Kong City Hall Concert Hall 2.30 on 11.12.11 at Tsuen Wan Town Hall Auditorium


On a daytrip to London zoo, Tilly drops her beloved teddy bear in the polar
bear pen. That night she's woken by a magical polar bear who has appeared
in her bedroomwith - you guessed it - the self same teddy bear. Tilly does
her best to hide her new friend from her suspiciousparents as they explore
her home together. As eveningdraws in once more, the Bear returns her
kindness by whiskingher away on a moonlit tour of the London landscape,
and off into the night skies where he introduces her to the spirit of the Great
Bear - Ursa Major - before he heads north to his original Arctic home...

"The Bear" is adapted from Raymond Briggs' classic story - the fourth such
projectby John Coates and his TVC team, and it's another gem on a par with
"The Snowman". Just like that magical film, it has a soft, crayoned look.
The story is once more told through a combinationof animation and music,
with almost no dialogue.There's a rich choral element to the orchestration
and another wintery flight through the night sky. But never fear, "The Bear"
leaps and boundsacross the screen very much on its own. It's exquisitely
produced in a widescreenformat, and utilizes the developments in animation
techniques since "The Snowman"sarrival to enhance the viewing experience
considerably. The story is noticably darker too,and there's aparticular intensity
invested in the scenes with the Great Bear. "The Snowman" leaves us grieving
for the loss of a special special friend. But when the Bear finally departs for
the Arctic, our sadness is tinged with hope and understanding. The Bear
is simply going home again, back to where he belongs.

Howard Blake picks up the musical baton once more.Where "The Snowman"
had soloist Peter Auty stirring our hearts, "The Bear" has the (then) angelic
talents of a young Charlotte Church. And it's a terrific score thatcompliments
the story very well indeed. However,in America, the distributors have still felt it
neccessary to add anarration to proceedings. The voiceover is spoken by the
rather lovely Judi Dench, but it's an unwiseand ratherunwelcome addition
- Shame on them!

»Those with a keen eye will notice that, at one point, Tilly and herparents
settle down to watch "The Snowman" on their tv. There are also three
fabulous in-jokes included in the night flight:

» A mewling baby in its crib has the initials 'JC' sewn on its rompersuit.
A sly reference to producer John Coates, methinks.

»Tilly and The Bear's magical flight takes them past the window of
a frustrated pianist, who looks remarkably similar to real-life composer
Howard Blake.

» Finally, we pass by the smiling face of The Man In The Moon, who
looksunquestionably like the one and only Mr Raymond Briggs!

Toonhound, 2007

Related Works

'Somewhere A Star Shines For Everyone' op.509 (April 1999)
A song for girl soprano, tenor, baritone and orchestra from 'The Bear'
'THE BEAR CONCERT VERSION to be performed with projected film, girl soprano, tenor and baritone soloists and orchestra' op.510 (April 1999)
The concert work as originally created for the animated film

Related Autobiography Chapters

Edith Sitwell's 'Still falls the rain' and' 'The Bear' (1997)
Vladimir Ashkenazy records my piano music for Decca (2013)

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