Seal Lullaby, The

From Wind Repertory Project
Eric Whitacre

Eric Whitacre

General Info

Year: 2004 / 2011
Duration: c. 3:45
Difficulty: III (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Carpe Ranem, distributed by Hal Leonard
Cost: Score and Parts - $95.00   |   Score Only - $25.00


Full Score
Flute I-II
B-flat Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Horn in F I-II
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
Percussion, including:

  • Glockenspiel


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

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


State Ratings

  • Georgia: IV
  • Texas: III. Complete


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Arkansas Tech University (Russellville) Symphonic Band (Jonathan Nash, conductor) - 3 October 2023
  • Cuesta Wind Ensemble (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) (Jennifer Martin, conductor) – 10 May 2023
  • Los Banos (Calif.) High School Concert Band (Danielle Cavazos, conductor) - 25 March 2023 (2023 Sutherland Wind Festival (Fresno, Calif.)
  • Penn State University (University Park) Concert Band (Robert Hickey, conductor) - 23 February 2023
  • Kennesaw (Ga.) State University Wind Symphony (Daniel Lee, conductor) - 15 February 2023
  • Western Illinois University (Macomb) Wind Ensemble (Mike Fansler, conductor; Claire Huang, piano) - 30 April 2022
  • University of Northern Colorado (Greeley) Symphonic Band (Jon Borodach, conductor) - 25 March 2021
  • 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)
  • ASBOA (Arkansas) All-State Symphonic Band (Elizabeth Jackson Kirchhoff, conductor) - 19 February 2022
  • 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)

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

  • The Seal Lullaby (Flex instrumentation) (arr. Ambrose) (2011/2021)
  • Sing Gently (Flex instrumentation) (arr. Mösenbichler-Bryant) (2020/2021)

All Wind Works