Approach to Scoring
Excerpt from an interview by Bronwyn Lobb with Bryony Marks in Resonate Magazine, 17 April 2013:
The Happiness Box
a new musical adventure for children
by Bronwyn Lobb
BM: It was after a conversation with conductor Brett Kelly, during which he pointed to the scarcity of Australian orchestral works for children, that I went on the hunt for a singular fairy tale and found The Happiness Box. It was featured in an exhibition presented by the National Library of Australia entitled 'National Treasures'. I was immediately captivated by the larger story; the gentle morality tale of the three best friends on a journey resulting in the discovery of the secret of happiness; even the title of the book itself. It was obvious I had found the right Australian story.
The estates of David Griffin and Leslie Greener were kind enough to give me approval to adapt the work into a structure suiting its new incarnation. Symphony Services Australia, the Robert Salzer Foundation and Father Arthur E. Bridge AM and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra have generously provided the commission and premiere performance opportunities respectively. It is extremely exciting to be involved in bringing this story to a new generation of children, seventy years after its creation, and I believe its themes to be as relevant today as they were then.
BL: Have you found your approach to this composition to be different to that of your other compositions, and if yes, why?
BM: Yes, very different. Since the birth of my eldest son eight years ago I have been writing music for film and television exclusively. The relatively short length of music cues has been advantageous, as my writing studio is in my house, and even with a babysitter present there are constant interruptions. Obviously, it is important that film music blends seamlessly into the fabric of a film. Sometimes, in my opinion, the best film music is felt rather than heard. Of course, The Happiness Box puts the music on an equal footing with the narrator, and a great deal more time was spent on very particular nuances.
The interplay between the narrator and orchestra structurally underpins the work. Though I have written for spoken voice before in my chamber opera, Crossing live, (which was performed by Chamber Made in 2007), in The Happiness Box the narrator really parries with the orchestra. So it is fortunate that we have secured Stephen Curry as our narrator, as he is one of the most quick witted, vaudevillian performers I have seen.
BL: There are a number of characters introduced in the book - how have you chosen to represent them musically?
BM: Winston the chi-chak lizard is represented by darting oboe and glockenspiel; Martin the monkey, by pizz bass characterised by wide ranging glissandi with muted trumpets; Wobbley the frog, by tuba and guiro. The wind motif is signified by piccolo, flute, ocean drum and air noise; Bumble the Bee, solo viola; Dreamy Bill the turtle, solo cello; birds, harmonic strings - I could go on, but that's probably too much information already...
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