SUITE FROM THE BALLET 'THE SNOWMAN' (FOR SATB CHORUS AND ORCHESTRA) op.575 (November 2009)

Concert work for SATB and orchestra (optional solo treble in Walking in the Air) in 6 movements
Published by: Chester Music www.chesternovello.com
Instrumentation:

2 Flutes (piccolos); Oboe (=Cor Anglais); 2 Clarinets in B flat (2=Bass Clarinet); Bassoon

2 Horns in F; Trumpet in B flat

Percussion(2players): Glockenspiel; Vibraphone; Chimes; Xylophone;

Drum-kit (SD,BD,Hi-Hat,stand cym. with hard/soft sticks/wire brushes)

Triangle; Tambourine; Bell-tree; Sleigh-bells; Claves; Wood-block; Cabaca; Vibra-slap; Tam-tam

4 Timpani

Piano

Celesta

Harp 

Strings (minimum 8.6.4.4.2 players)


[Key to Abbreviations]
Note on Lyrics: lyrics by Howard Blake
Duration: 21 mins
First Performance:

Cambridge Philharmonic Orchestra, cond Howard Blake, January 7th 2007.

(Revised version FP) Oxford Philomusica and chorus, conducted by Howard Blake, Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford, 18th December 2009


Sheet Music Available
Full score for sale
Study score for sale
Orchestral parts for sale
Piano / Vocal score for sale
Vocal score for sale
Instrumental / piano score for sale
Instrumental parts for sale
Full score for hire
Study score for hire
Orchestral parts for hire
Piano / Vocal score for hire
Vocal score for hire
Instrumental / piano score for hire
Instrumental parts for hire

All sheet music for "The Snowman" and "Walking In The Air" since 2010 is published and available from Chester Music Ltd, part of The Music Sales Group, www.chesternovello.com It can be purchased online from MusicRoom.com, or from music retailers.

"Walking In The Air" is also available in a concert piano-only version arranged by the composer direct from Highbridge Music as part of the collection of piano pieces called "Lifecycle", available form Amazon or from Highbridge Music; enquiries to anna@annamenzies.com

Recordings Available
Cliff at Christmas
Recorded: 2003
Artists: Cliff Richard

The Snowman - London Philharmonic Orchestra
Recorded: May 2006
Artists: London Philharmonic Orchestra, Chris Jarvis (narrator), David Parry (conductor)

The original album of The Snowman with Bernard Cribbins as narrator (26') is available on CBS Masterworks(Sony)71116.

DVD and CD versions of much of this material was made available by Reiner Moritz Associates 1998.

Sony Entertainments release of a DVD of The Snowman Stage Show complete for Christmas 2010

Howard Blake describes 25 years of The Snowman animated film and 10 years of The Snowman Stage Show at Sadler's Wells Peacock Theatre in London's West End and plays "Walking in the Air". View the recording here.

The classic original Columbia album conducted by Howard Blake with treble soloist Peter Auty and narration by Bernard Cribbins is available from Sony Music Entertainment CDX71116CD, Amazon and retailers.

The 2010 DVD film of The Snowman Live Stage Show narrated by Joanna Lumley is available from Sony Music Entertainment, CDR 81267; also from Amazon and retailers.

Movements

  • 1: CHRISTMAS LULLABY for choir and orchestra (opus 575a) 5 minutes 15 seconds
    Golden Crowns and Jewels Gleaming

    'Christmas Lullaby' began life in 1990 as a commission for a Christmas Eve broadcast by Classic FM, scored for soprano and mezzo-soprano with chamber ensemble (as Opus 413 qv) but three years later, when Howard and director Bill Alexander developed The Snowman into a full evening of theatre at The Birmingham Rep a scene was created for a colourful group of carol singers and 'Christmas Lullaby'seemed highly appropriate (as part of The Snowman Stage Show Opus 459)For this suite the carol has been re-scored for choir and orchestra. The lyrics are Howard's own:

    Golden crowns and jewels gleaming,
    Beams of light from lanterns streaming,
    Wise men kneeling in adoration
    See the Christ-child sleeping there.

    Straw-strewn floor and cattle lowing,
    Ox and ass devotion showing,
    Shepherds kneeling in adoration
    See the Christ-child sleeping there.

    Virgin Mary, Mother mild,
    Smiling on the Holy Child,
    Born a King in Bethlehem
    As saviour of the world.
    Overhead the angels singing,
    Tidings of all the joy he's bringing.

    Star above the stable shining,
    Heav'n and earth in joy combining,
    All mankind in adoration
    See the Christ-child sleeping there.
    Lullaby, lullaby.

  • 2: REINDEER DANCE for orchestra (Opus 575b) 4 minutes 12 seconds

    The combinaton of sleigh-bells and orchestra instantly conjures up the image of sleigh and reindeer. The infectious rhythm is created by two contrasted themes working against each other in counterpoint (one on woodwind, one on strings.) A bassoon episode suggests a slightly grumpy Father Christmas, who can't quite get the reindeer under control, but the problem is solved and all graciously bow.

  • 3: DANCE OF THE ICE-PRINCESS for orchestra (Opus 575c) 4 minutes 35 seconds
    Pas de Deux of the Ice-princess and the Snowman

    The Snowman is much taken by the beautiful, silver-clad Ice Princess who asks him to dance with her. Her role is suggested by solo violin and his by solo cello. As the music grows and waxes eloquent so The Snowman gains confidence in his new role of male lead, lifting the ballerina high in the air. She is delighted with this and as the music draws to a close plants a kiss on The Snowman's cheek. He blushes with embarassment!

  • 4: JACK FROST'S STORM-DANCE for orchestra (Opus 575d) 3 minutes 30 seconds

    Just when all seem to be having a wonderful time the spiky, menacing figure of Jack Frost appears and everybody is terrified. He brings a snow-storm with him and the sound of this is helped by the use of a wind-machine in the percusssion section. He strides and leaps and bounds whilst everybody cowers abjectly before him. When he makes his final spectacular jump into the air and lands centre-stage brandishing a whip there's not doubt as to what he's trying to say!

  • 5: THE DANCE OF THE SNOWMEN for orchestra (Opus 575e) 3 minutes 30 seconds

    When the boy and The Snowman land at the North Pole, they are amazed to find a party of snowmen of every nationality. This dance was in the original cartoon and you can hear the fiddle and the flute that are pictured in it. In the ballet it is done as a'round dance' but the central section is the moment when the boy, not to be outdone, does his 'big footsteps in the snow dance', just as he had in the garden back at home. All the Snowmen are delighted!

  • 6: WALKING IN THE AIR for SATB choir and orchestra (Opus 575f) 3 minutes 30 seconds
    We're walking in the air

    This is the theme on which the whole work is based. Music critic Robert Matthew-Walker wrote in Musical Opinion (2006): 'Musically this work is a masterpiece. I do not use the word lightly. Howard Blake's world-famous song 'Walking in the Air', with which Aled Jones as a treble had such success, is used as the basis for a virtually continuous set of symphonic variations: a subtle and fully-wrought score which entrances the ears of all who are brought into the magical world it conjures up.' In this suite the song expands from the simple opening soprano line into a chorus of Christmas joy and celebration.

    We're walking in the air
    We're floating in the moonlit sky
    The people far below are sleeping as we fly

    I'm holding very tight
    I'm riding in the midnight blue
    I'm finding I can fly so high above with you

    Far across the world
    The villages go by like dreams
    The rivers and the hills
    The forests and the streams

    Children gaze open mouthed
    Taken by surprise
    Nobody down below believes their eyes

    We're surfing in the air
    We're swimming in the frozen sky
    We're drifting over icy
    Mountains floating by

    Suddenly swooping low on an ocean deep
    Rousing up a mighty monster from his sleep

    We're walking in the air
    We're floating in the midnight sky
    And everyone who sees us greets us as we fly

    (HB)

Notes

'The Snowman' began in 1978 as a wordless children's picture book by Raymond Briggs, but in 1982 the London animation company TVC  in association with Channel 4  made a 26-minute cartoon, directed by Diane Jackson. The film featured the song 'Walking in the Air' sung by Peter Auty. Howard Blake wrote both music and lyrics of the song as well as composing and conducting the orchestral score. It was shown on Christmas Eve 1982 and an immediate success. The musical score was published in many different forms, a record album was released by CBS Masterworks and a concert version was launched, which has since been performed world-wide. However, in 1993 Howard was approached by the distinguished choreographer Robert North to create a one-act ballet for the Stora Theatre in Gothenburg. Howard wrote more than 30 minutes of new music and after a very succesful debut season the ballet was  transferred to the new Gothenburg Opera House.  Meanwhile simultaneously in the UK Howard had been approached by Bill Alexander, artistic director of The Birmingham Repertory Theatre as to whether a full evening stage show might not be developed. With Robert North's blessing the expanded ballet score was extended still further, additional music and dance creating a further 30 minutes. This version was christened The Snowman Stage Show and was also succesful, a proposed week of 10 performances extending to 94.   Although Robert was unable to choreograph this first 1993 season, since his ballet was simultaneously in production in Sweden, when a new season in Birmingham was mooted for 1997, Howard stipulated that Robert North be choreographer and Bill Alexander director. A magical marriage of stagecraft and ballet was evolving, but for a while the two shows continued side-by-side.  For instance, In 1999 Robert mounted a production of the ballet in the Teatro Filarmonico, Verona, Italy which added some features of the stage show, and in 2001/2, with still more features from the stage show added, it was presented by The Royal Scottish Ballet for their Christmas tour, somewhat controversially rivalling 'The Nutcracker'! By this time the show filled an entire evening in two acts. In 2000 Sadler's Wells began a collaboration with Birmingham Rep to manage the stage show in London's  Peacock Theatre. Two new characters appeared- The Ice-Princess, dancing a pas de deux with the Snowman, and Jack Frost, performing a bravura Storm Dance with striking new music. The Snowman Stage Show (The Ballet of The Snowman) has now been running in this version at Sadler's Wells/The Peacock Theatre for 9 consecutive Christmas seasons and is considered London's longest-running Christmas show. Its most recent triumph has been a sold-out season at Seoul Opera House (March/April 2009) heralding a major city tour in 2010. 

Suite from the Ballet 'The Snowman' presents six of its musical set-pieces in choral and orchestral concert form.



Performances

18th December 2009 Oxford Philomusica and chorus cond. by Howard Blake, Sheldonian Oxford
9th December 2008 City of Carlisle Orchestra, choristers from Carlisle Cathedral, cond. by Peter Wood, St Cuthbert's Church, Carlisle
7th January 2007 Bernard Cribbins,Cambridge Philharmonic Orchestra, cond Howard Blake, Corn Exchange Cambridge

Related Works


'CHRISTMAS LULLABY' op.413 (April 1990)
Duet for soprano, mezzo-soprano and orchestra
''Christmas Lullaby' for chorus and orchestra' op.433 (October 1991)
A re-arrangement of op.413, commissioned by the BBC for Friday Night is Music Night but cancelled without explanation

Related Autobiography Chapters


'Walking in the Air' arrangement for Stockholm Boys Choir, Scotland (2007)

[Back to top]