In 2017 the Hallé Concerts Society commissioned Edward Gregson to write a new work for the Hallé Children’s Choir. The premiere of this new work will take place on 1 July 2018 at The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester. The Hallé Children’s choir will be joined by two narrators from the Manchester Metropolitan University School of Drama and the Hallé Orchestra, conducted by Stephen Bell.
The Salamander and the Moonraker (An Adventure Story in Music) is based on a cantata commissioned in 1980 by the Croydon Schools’ Music Association with funds provided by the Arts Council of Great Britain. However, the work was extensively revised and orchestrated for this new version and includes two narrators.
The story tells of the adventures of some children caught up in the magical realms beyond Earth. They are transported into space to rescue the Moonraker, held captive by the god Thor. They enlist the help of the mythological Salamander to carry them through Thor’s barrier of fire and rescue the Moonraker and take her back to the Moon.
The cantata falls into eight main sections, each of which has a sub-title as follows: Introduction, The Salamander’s Song, Glittering Galaxy, The Moonraker’s Song, Thor’s Song, We want the Moonraker, Storm Music and Going Home.
The music is widely contrasting in its use of ‘free’ passages that tell the story, and set songs, some ‘popular’ in style and idiom. The orchestration is highly colourful with particularly important roles for piano, harp and percussion.