2009 Archives

Art&Seek Q&A: Simon Sargon


The following is from the October 22, 2009, edition of Art&Seek.

October 23, 2009

Simon Sargon, a highly regarded composer and professor of composition at SMU since 1983, will enjoy a Dallas Symphony Orchestra premiere of his work for young audiences, “The Town Musicians of Bremen,” at its opening Family Concert on Sunday, October 25, 2009 at the Meyerson Symphony Center. 

Written in 2004 and dedicated to his granddaughter, Juliana, “The Town Musicians” is a musical telling of the story by The Brothers Grimm in which four animals escape their heartless owners and, en route to the town of Bremen, prove their continued usefulness by noisily scaring off some inept robbers. The DSO’s performance will include the talented dancers of the Dallas Black Dance Theatre acting out the personalities of Desmond the Donkey, Nick the Cat, Clarence the Hound, and Red the Rooster, as well as the bumbling robbers. Premiered at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts in 2006, the piece has been an audience favorite for several seasons at the Music in the Mountains summer festival in Durango, Colorado, Southern Methodist University (with the Meadows Division of Dance), and the University of Missouri-Columbia summer music festival (with the Missouri Contemporary Ballet). This fall it will also be performed by the Maple City Chamber Orchestra in Goshen, Indiana on its Family Concert series.

Among other honors, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra has premiered three of Sargon’s works to critical acclaim and over the years he has collaborated, performed, and recorded works with numerous DSO musicians. Most recently, Sargon and Erin Hannigan, Principal Oboist of the DSO, garnered high praise for two of Sargon’s chamber music compositions that were included on the CD “From Firewing to Hafiz” (Crystal, 2008).

Sargon received one of the prestigious Sam Taylor Fellowship Awards for 2008-2009 for his proposal to create a large-scale work for solo voice, chorus and symphony orchestra utilizing both extant and ancient religious texts. He is also a recipient of the Meadows Foundation 2008-2009 Distinguished Professor Award.

Mr. Sargon recently gave us a few moments of his time to answer a few questions as part of this week's Art&Seek Q&A:

Art&Seek: “The Town Musicians of Bremen,” is a lovely concept, in that it was written with children in mind and it’s a wonderful story put to music. Your granddaughter was the inspiration behind it; tell me a little more about that.

Simon Sargon: When Juliana, my first grandchild, was born in 2002, I was as thrilled and excited as I imagine any first-time grandparent could be. Being a composer, it was only natural for me to want to mark this special occasion with a musical tribute.

Just at that time the Dallas Symphony Orchestra had returned from a European concert tour, and my friend Greg Hustis, the first hornist of the orchestra, brought me a series of illustrated postcards from the town of Bremen, where the Symphony had toured. He suggested that the Brothers Grimm story about the Town Musicians of Bremen might be an ideal piece for a children’s concert. When he mentioned this idea to me, a light bulb switched on in my head, and I started to work immediately.

Actually writing the music for the piece was not the most difficult part of the project. The actual story, as told by the Brothers Grimm, I found to be rather stodgy and unimaginative. So I ended up re-writing the story, updating the narration for a 21st century audience. As it turned out, that was the most time consuming part of the project!

 Read the full interview.

# # #



Find an Expert