The Salamander and the Moonraker

15th August 2020


The Salamander’s Song
Glittering Galaxy
The Moonraker’s Song
Thor’s Song
We want the Moonraker
Storm Music
Going Home

Composer: Edward Gregson
Story and text: Susan Gregson
Publisher: Novello – Wise Music Classical

The Hallé
Hallé Children’s Choir

Conductor: Stephen Bell
Narrators: Christy Matthews & Zoe Villiers
Director: David Shirley
Hallé Children’s Choir Director: Shirley Court
Hallé Children’s Choir Assistant Director: Michelle Robinson
Hallé Children’s Choir Drama Coach: Sarah Day-Smith

The story tells of the adventures of some children caught up in the magical realms beyond Earth. It begins with they encounter a ‘strange’ voice echoing from a gigantic balloon telling them of the plight of the Moonraker, held captive by the god Thor. The children are told that without the Moonraker there would be no more moonlight on earth. They are transported into space and with the help of an amazing Salamander, they are carried through Thor’s ring of fire to rescue the Moonraker. But then, Thor unleashes the mightiest of storms to try and stop them escaping. Will they succeed in their mission?

The Salamander and the Moonraker was commissioned by the Hallé Concerts Society for the Hallé and Hallé Children’s Choir. The music was composed by Edward Gregson, who was awarded an Ivors Academy Composer Award in 2019 for this piece.

The narrative unfolds through a mixture of free ‘recitative’ sections where the narrators and choir take it in turn, but sometimes together, to tell the story. The music is unified by the use of leitmotifs (short signature tunes that represent the various characters in the story). So, for example, Thor’s motif is a frenetic timpani solo, whilst the Moonraker’s Song is accompanied mainly by harp and strings in a slow and gentle waltz. The Introduction uses a set of four rather ominous-sounding notes, encompassing the interval of fate and foreboding, even featuring a quotation from the fate motif in Wagner’s Ring Cycle.