• Howard Blake
  • Suite from the ballet "The Snowman", Op. 575 (2009)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)
  • 2(2pic)1(ca)2(bcl)12100timp.2perchp.pf+celstr(min.
  • SATB
  • 21 min

Programme Note

'The Snowman' began in 1978 as a wordless children's picture book by Raymond Briggs, but in 1982 the London animation company TVC in association with Channel 4 made a 26-minute cartoon, directed by Diane Jackson. The film featured the song 'Walking in the Air' sung by Peter Auty. Howard Blake wrote both music and lyrics of the song as well as composing and conducting the orchestral score. It was shown on Christmas Eve 1982 and an immediate success. The musical score was published in many different forms, a record album was released by CBS Masterworks and a concert version was launched, which has since been performed world-wide. However, in 1993 Howard was approached by the distinguished choreographer Robert North to create a one-act ballet for the Stora Theatre in Gothenburg. Howard wrote more than 30 minutes of new music and after a very succesful debut season the ballet was transferred to the new Gothenburg Opera House. Meanwhile simultaneously in the UK Howard had been approached by Bill Alexander, artistic director of The Birmingham Repertory Theatre as to whether a full evening stage show might not be developed. With Robert North's blessing the expanded ballet score was extended still further, additional music and dance creating a further 30 minutes. This version was christened The Snowman Stage Show and was also succesful, a proposed week of 10 performances extending to 94. Although Robert was unable to choreograph this first 1993 season, since his ballet was simultaneously in production in Sweden, when a new season in Birmingham was mooted for 1997, Howard stipulated that Robert North be choreographer and Bill Alexander director. A magical marriage of stagecraft and ballet was evolving, but for a while the two shows continued side-by-side. For instance, In 1999 Robert mounted a production of the ballet in the Teatro Filarmonico, Verona, Italy which added some features of the stage show, and in 2001/2, with still more features from the stage show added, it was presented by The Royal Scottish Ballet for their Christmas tour, somewhat controversially rivalling 'The Nutcracker'! By this time the show filled an entire evening in two acts. In 2000 Sadler's Wells began a collaboration with Birmingham Rep to manage the stage show in London's Peacock Theatre. Two new characters appeared- The Ice-Princess, dancing a pas de deux with the Snowman, and Jack Frost, performing a bravura Storm Dance with striking new music. The Snowman Stage Show (The Ballet of The Snowman) has now been running in this version at Sadler's Wells/The Peacock Theatre for 9 consecutive Christmas seasons and is considered London's longest-running Christmas show. Its most recent triumph has been a sold-out season at Seoul Opera House (March/April 2009) heralding a major city tour in 2010.
Suite from the Ballet 'The Snowman' presents six of its musical set-pieces in choral and orchestral concert form.