I started setting a few of Rudyard Kipling’s classic Just So Stories a long time ago – probably some time in 1998 – and completed a piano & voice version of ‘How the Whale Got His Throat’ around that time. This was before I had kids.
Now that my own kids are really to old for the Just So Stores (I know, I have impeccable timing), I’ve finally returned to the work. I orchestrated ‘The Whale’ in 2015, and picked up where I left off on the other stores (‘The Sing-Song of Old Man Kangaroo’ and ‘How the Camel Got His Hump’). As of the writing of this article, I just finished ‘Kangaroo’, and I anticipate ‘Camel’ will not be far behind.
My goal was to be as loyal as possible to the Kipling text (I only made very minor tweaks). I set the pieces for Baritone and Orchestra, and envision a few of them being performed together for an Orchestra’s Family Concert Series, with the singer/narrator also using simple giant props/puppets.
This idea and these tunes have been knocking around in my head for almost 20 years. I hope one day they will be performed by live musicians in front of real children (instead of my own kids being forced to hear the preview files over and over again!!)