Seal Lullaby, The
Bb Clarinet I-II-III
Bb Bass Clarinet
Alto Saxophone I-II
Trumpet (in Bb) I-II
Horn in F I-II
Baritone (Bass Clef & Treble Clef)
None discovered thus far.
In the spring of 2004 I was lucky enough to have my show Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings presented at the ASCAP Musical Theater Workshop. The workshop is the brain child of legendary composer Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell), and his insights about the creative process were profoundly helpful. He became a great mentor and friend to the show and, I am honored to say, to me personally. Soon after the workshop I received a call from a major film studio. Stephen had recommended me to them and they wanted to know if I might be interested in writing music for an animated feature. I was incredibly excited, said yes, and took the meeting.
The creative executives with whom I met explained that the studio heads had always wanted to make an epic adventure, a classic animated film based on Kipling’s The White Seal. I have always loved animation, (the early Disney films; Looney Tunes; everything Pixar makes) and I couldn’t believe that I might get a chance to work in that grand tradition on such great material.
The White Seal is a beautiful story, classic Kipling, dark and rich and not at all condescending to kids. Best of all, Kipling begins his tale with the mother seal singing softly to her young pup. (The opening poem is called The Seal Lullaby).
Oh! Hush thee, my baby, the night is behind us,
And black are the waters that sparkled so green.
The moon, o’er the combers, looks downward to find us,
At rest in the hollows that rustle between.
Where billow meets billow, then soft be thy pillow,
Oh weary wee flipperling, curl at thy ease!
The storm shall not wake thee, nor shark overtake thee,
Asleep in the arms of the slow swinging seas!
Rudyard Kipling, 1865-1936
I was struck so deeply by those first beautiful words, and a simple, sweet Disney-esque song just came gushing out of me. I wrote it down as quickly as I could, had my wife record it while I accompanied her at the piano, and then dropped it off at the film studio. I didn’t hear anything from them for weeks and weeks, and I began to despair. Did they hate it? Was it too melodically complex? Did they even listen to it? Finally, I called them, begging to know the reason that they had rejected my tender little song. “Oh,” said the exec, “we decided to make Kung Fu Panda instead.”
So I didn’t do anything with it; just sang it to my baby son every night to get him to go to sleep. (Success rate: less than 50%.) A few years later the Towne Singers commissioned the choral arrangement of it, and in 2011 I transcribed the piece for concert band. I’m grateful to them for giving it a new life, and to the schools, colleges and directors listed who have believed in this new transcription. And I’m especially grateful to Stephen Schwartz, to whom the piece is dedicated. His friendship and invaluable tutelage has meant more to me than I could ever tell him.
- Program note by composer
- Audio CD: 2012 Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA): All-State 4A Symphonic Band (Sharon Lavery, conductor)
- Georgia: IV
To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project
- Sacramento (Calif.) Winds (Timothy Smith, conductor) – 15 March 2020
*University of Florida (Gainesville) Monday Concert Band (Justin Renzi, conductor) – 25 February 2020
- Syracuse (N.Y.) University Concert Band (Timothy W. Diem, conductor) – 27 February 2020
- California All-State Junior High School Symphonic Band (Timothy Harris, conductor) - 23 February 2020 (2020 CASMEC Conference, Fresno)
- The Ohio State University (Columbus) Symphonic Band (Shawn Malone, conductor) – 13 February 2020
- Sacramento (Calif.) Symphonic Winds (Tim Smith conductor) – 11 February 2020
- Foothill Symphonic Winds (Palo Alto, Calif.) (Roy Stehle, conductor) – 8 December 2019
- Truman State University (Kirksville, Mo.) Honor Band (Dan Peterson, conductor) - 18 November 2019
- Walnut Hills High School (Cincinnati, Ohio) Wind Ensemble (Richard Canter, conductor) – 2 November 2019
- Kansas State University (Manhattan) Concert Band (Allegra Fisher, conductor) – 24 October 2019
- University of Portland (Ore.) Wind Symphony (Patrick Murphy, conductor) – 28 September 2019
- University of Georgia (Athens) Hodgson Symphonic Band (Michael Robinson, conductor) – 27 September 2019>
- Gottschalk Music Center Concert Band (Modesto, Calif.) (Ulices Chaves, conductor) – 8 June 2018 (Golden Gate Park, San Francisco)
- Baylor University (Waco, Texas) Concert Band (David Montgomery, conductor) – 5 May 2019
- North Dakota State University (Fargo) Wind Symphony (Warren Olfert, conductor) – 4 May 2019
- University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire University Band (Randal C. Dickerson, conductor) – 1 May 2019
- Cameron (Mo.) High School Symphonic Band (Blake Duren, conductor) – 28 April 2019
- Idaho State University (Pocatello) Civic Concert Band (Erin Armstrong, conductor) – 19 April 2019
- Santa Cruz (Calif.) High School Symphonic Band (Christina Latham, conductor) – 12 April 2019 (2019 San Joaquin Valley (Calif.) Concert Band Invitational)
Works for Winds by this Composer
- Cloudburst (1991/ tr. 2001)
- Deep Field (2015/2016)
- Equus (2000)
- Fly to Paradise
- Ghost Train (1995)
- Godzilla Eats Las Vegas (1996)
- Goodnight Moon
- Lux Aurumque (2005)
- Noisy Wheels of Joy (2002)
- October (2000)
- October (arr. Miller) (2000)
- The Seal Lullaby (2011)
- Sleep (2000)
- Sleep (arr. Nowlin) (2000/2016)
- Sleep, My Child (arr. Gershman) (2013)
- Star-Spangled Banner (as arranger) (1814/2018)
- Snyder, Courtney. "Seal Lullaby." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 9, edit. & comp. by Richard Miles, 262-268. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2013.
- Whitacre, E.; Kipling, R. (2011). The Seal Lullaby [score]. Carpe Ranam : [North Hollywood, Calif.?]