A Children’s Symphonic Drama

Composed: 2011 (revised 2014)
Commission: CityMusic Cleveland Chamber Orchestra and sponsored in part by Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, National Endowment for the Arts, Ohio Arts Council, The Corinne L. Dodero Trust for Arts and Sciences. 
Co-sponsored by: David Krakowski, Daniel Cornstein, Hannah, Tobin and Stella Moore
Dedicated to Eugenia, Sawsan, Anneke, Ethan and Nico
Premiere: CityMusic Cleveland, May 10, 2011
Duration:  26-28 minutes
Instrumentation:  1122 2210 1 perc. Narrator, strings


Daniel and Snakeman  is a Children’s Symphonic Drama with narrator suited for children from age 4 to 12.  The duration is 26 - 28 minutes.  The various characters in the story are represented by different instruments - Daniel by trumpets and horns, Wiggy by the clarinet, Malik by drums, Fadumo and Elizabeth by the oboe and violin, and Snakeman by the trombone with lots of glissandi.  The work is tonal with catchy melodies and rhythms.

An 11 year-old boy named Daniel lived in a future time called the 7th World Order. It was a time when people had learned to live together peacefully, respecting each other's differences.  But there were hold-overs from the past called the old guard.  These people, many of whom had become half human and half animal still believed that people who were different from each other should not come near each other and not do fun things together.  

Daniel’s friend, Wiggy, was a talking bat who glided and darted around Daniel - sometimes wiggling comically.  Daniel and Wiggy were trying to find some missing friends - the drummer, Malik and the young dancers, Fadumo and Elizabeth.  They discovered that their friends had been captured by Snakeman, a leader in the old guard.  They found Snakeman’s fortress and found a way inside.  They could hear Malik, Fadumo and Elizabeth playing their music way in the distance.  They followed the sound of the music until they entered a dungeon room where their friends and many other people were imprisoned.  Daniel found a way to capture Snakeman.  Then he used the blaster in his ZX89 Magnetizing Power Zoomer to cut the prison bars freeing all the people. 



"Music's power to unite is one of the key messages in Margaret Brouwer's Daniel and Snakeman, a disarming piece for listeners of all ages...Brouwer's score pays tribute to Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf in assigning instruments and themes to each character. And like the Russian composer's popular piece, Daniel abounds in charming tunes that help catapult Brouwer's story about the eponymous hero who faces nasty, intolerant Snakeman and releases the villain's underground population of people of many cultures."  -Donald Rosenberg, Cleveland: The Plain Dealer, May 10, 2011 

"On Wednesday morning May 11 at 10 am, CityMusic Cleveland presented the premiere of Daniel and Snakeman, as part of its educational outreach program. The children were treated to a real live orchestra concert and a world premiere performance of a delightful, heart rending composition that is a lesson in humanity and equality. This wonderful CityMusic intergenerational presentation with text and music written by noted Cleveland composer Margaret Brouwer, was narrated by Scott Plate and conducted by Joshua Weilerstein. 

The characters in the story were introduced and characterized with “leitmotifs” played by specific instruments in the orchestra, as they are in Brouwer’s model, Prokofiev’s Peter and The Wolf.

The trumpet, playing a heroic melody, portrays the young boy Daniel.… The clarinet, playing often jazzy high and low runs, portrays Wiggy (“a talking comical bat”). The trombone, playing many slippery glissandi and a pompous melody, portrays Snakeman… The percussion… portrays Malik the Drummer… The violin and oboe portray Elizabeth (blonde and fair skinned) and Fadumo (black hair and brown skinned), dancing girls who communicate with music and their dancing. The lower strings and percussion, playing with an amorphous and rather cacophonous cluster of sound, portrays Pod 333 (“a lopsided and crazily clanking robot”).

A fairytale filled with good versus evil, Daniel and Snakeman is told in a way that can be understood and respected by young and old. It is a true work of noble and kind innocence as expressed through Ms. Brouwer’s charismatic text and compositional ingenuity. She weaves a picturesque tapestry of sounds into our minds and emotions while giving distinction to her characters with lush harmonies, beautiful melodies, jazzy licks, occasional dissonant noises, varying tonal colors, intricate rhythmic pulsations and subtle but tricky metric shifts — all leading to a calm and rather subtle finale of peace. Congratulations to the instrumentalists who portrayed the various characters with imaginative style. And a special bow to trombonist Eric Star who stood while playing the “slippery glissandi” which portrayed Snakeman.

In the end, the children were happy campers and applauded with glee. They had just heard a real live orchestra play a concert just for them. And I am sure that many of them exited the concert remembering the devastating power of the“ZX-89 Magnitized Power Zoomer” and the use of the “double overhanded stopper knot” which Daniel ultimately used to free the subterranean, imprisoned “people of many cultures” and defeat Snakeman …”   - J.D. Goddard, www.clevelandclassical.com, May 11, 2011