The Dragons Are Singing Tonight, Project Description

 


The Dragons Are Singing Tonight
is a musical adaptation of Jack Prelutsky’s book of poems about dragons,
published by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Named the first Children’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation in 2006, Mr. Prelutsky is the author of numerous collections of poetry for children. Composer Laurie MacGregor set the text of the dragon poems in a song cycle for children’s chorus.

“The songs combine playfulness, soaring imagination, and deep knowledge –
knowledge of children, of the creative process, of music, and of learning.”


The Dragons Are Singing Tonight
was originally composed for elementary school children.
The cycle of sixteen songs is for unison and two-part, three-part, and four-part chorus. There are songs for the entire school, for each grade level, and for small groups, with many opportunities for solos.

“This is a perfect sensibility at work. Laurie MacGregor
understands the intelligence of children and conveys it through her music. The whimsy, fear,
anger, loneliness, and joy of childhood – her songs reveal the human condition,
and children discover their own humanity when they sing them.
In the shared experience of performance, they are
transformed. This is what it means to educate the young.”


The Dragons Are Singing Tonight
is approximately 60 minutes in length.
The songs combine children’s voices with a professional ensemble of twelve jazz and classical musicians playing flute and piccolo, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, trombone, accordion, viola, electric guitar, harp, piano, string bass and electric bass, drums, and percussion, including congas, timpani, glockenspiel, and hand percussion. Most songs, however, may be performed with solo piano accompaniment or with piano, bass, drums, and percussion.

“Your music is exquisite…beautiful, and haunting at times…
y
ou leave a piece of your soul in every song, and people sense that.”


The poems in The Dragons Are Singing Tonight explore different kinds of dragons and their connections to humans and other creatures. The music interprets the poems and characterizes the dragons in a variety of dance forms and musical styles,
including swing, reggae, rock, blues, cha cha cha, foxtrot, tango, waltz, and ballad. Examples are I Am Boom!, a dramatic tango featuring the piccolo, viola, accordion, and timpani, I Made a Mechanical Dragon, a lively cha cha cha with alto and tenor saxophones, congas, and assorted hand percussion, Nasty Little Dragonsong, a slow swing that features the trombone and electric guitar, and the finale, The Dragons Are Singing Tonight, a waltz that begins with harp, piano, flute, and solo voice, builds throughout the song, and ends with the full chorus and ensemble.

“You really captured the heart of the beast…brilliant!”


The Dragons Are Singing Tonight
, composed for an entire student body, was created as a large-scale collaborative work, and designed to build community.
The use of community resources is an integral part of the song cycle when performed with a live ensemble. Within a school community, The Dragons Are Singing Tonight offers the potential for an integrated curriculum.

“The concert was a magical moment of creativity and musical excellence,
a metaphor for all that we do together in our school community.”

 


Slideshow photos by Martha MacMillan, Julie Steiner, Ariana Ragonese, and Medora Hebert

THE DRAGONS ARE SINGING TONIGHT and I Am Boom! by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Peter Sís. Text copyright © 1993 by Jack Prelutsky.
Used by permission of HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers. All Rights Reserved.
Music copyright © 2005 by Laurie MacGregor. All Rights Reserved.

I Am Boom! from the TigerLion Arts 2012 production of The Dragons Are Singing Tonight, performed by the Minnesota Boychoir;
Julie Johnson, piccolo; Doug Haining, alto sax; David Wright III, tenor sax; Dave Graf, trombone; Don Stille, accordion; Elena Orsak,
viola; Emily Gerard, harp; Todd Price, piano; Michael Gold, string bass; Nathan Norman, drums; Randy Martens, timpani; Kylan Duff,
percussion; Laurie MacGregor, conductor