A Giant stoops to conquer the Brighton Festival

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The Independent Culture

From Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf to Benjamin Britten's The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra and Debussy's Golliwog's Cakewalk, written for the composer's three-year-old daughter, orchestral pieces have long introduced children to classical music. But the number of pieces written with children in mind is far from numerous. Why hasn't more classical music been written especially for children?

It's a question the award-winning composer Howard Goodall was pondering when he decided to compose his new piece and add to the repertoire of orchestral pieces written to inspire and captivate children's imaginations. The result, The Selfish Giant, re-imagines the short story by Oscar Wilde, and will premiere at the Brighton Festival tomorrow.

Goodall, who was crowned classical composer of the year at the 2009 Classical BRIT awards, said: "There aren't that many pieces in the orchestral repertoire after 800 years of classical music that actually relate to children and orchestras. It's strange that Peter and the Wolf is about the most famous of all these pieces but there's only about a half a dozen, so I love the idea of doing a new piece that will bring young people to the orchestra to hear the different instruments and to tell a story."

In Goodall's score, commissioned for the festival, Wilde's Giant is brought to life by the full Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra with chorus and a guest narrator. The Brighton Dome's concert organ portrays the ogre himself.

'The Selfish Giant', Concert Hall, Brighton (01273 709709; Brightonfestival.org) 1 May

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