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The Book

The Orchestra Mice
Inside every author is a mouse story wanting to get out.  Mine gnawed out early, through a wall in an orchestra hall. We were in a parents' baby-sitting exchange to save money, and I'd been reading a vapid  cartoony mouse book to my charges. Once they were abed I decided I could do better--and music-loving Clarissa was born.  The choice was natural. I grew up in a  musical family, heard practicing every day, practiced every day myself, and played cello for nine years in the fine Madison String Sinfonia under a genius of a conductor. Away at graduate school, I'm sure I was missing my  relatively recent total immersion in music.  I didn't do anything with the story, though, till I pulled it from my files many years later, improved it, and offered it to my friend Bob Morrow of the Kent State Art Department to illustrate.  He kept mice in a cage in the Morrow kitchen, and studied them: the orchestra mice are real mice, not cartoons. And he studied real instruments. Any instrumentalist can tell you how rarely an illustrator gets a particular instrument right, especially strings.  Bob Morrow's are beautifully accurate.  The book was published, well reviewed, sold nicely, went out of print.


"The Orchestra Mice" has had a revival. A few years ago an oboist, Martha Hicks, teaching at a Music and Art high school in Bielefeld, Germany, wrote for permission to turn "Orchestra Mice" into a musical. She'd received the book many years before, when she was a student at a conservatory in the States. I gladly gave it, and went to see four sold-out performances in November, 2004. The cast, fifteeen small mice and a full orchestra! It was a hit. Martha had had the text translated into German, wrote some of the music, and coordinated music from all the composers mentioned in the book, from beginning piano exercises to Bach, Bizet, and Brahms. "The Orchestra Mice" will be put on, in English, in September 2006 by the East Tennessee Regional Symphony, Johnson City, Tennessee. We have videos available of the German performance, and will have videos of the American performance. We also had the book itself reproduced (in English) in paperback, and copies are available for personal perusal, or for orchestral fundraising.  Use the bottom menu selection to the left to contact me for details.

Image from the book

Image from the video
A scene from the German stage production and a matching page from the book.

Image from the book

Image from the video
A scene from the German stage production and a matching page from the book.
Image from the book

Image from the video
A scene from the German stage production and a matching page from the book.

The DVD of the German production is recorded in American NTSC standards and will play on most American DVD players. Use the bottom menu selection to the left to ask us about this.

Jackie Jackson (rt) Sam, the orchestra mouse
DVD

Illustrations courtesy of the estate of Robert Morrow