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In brief;Reviews;Music and the Arts

THE SELFISH GIANT. Words and music by Bruce Kershaw. No performance fee. Available from 5 Sycamore Leys, Steeple Claydon, Buckingham, MK18 2RH. pound;6.

The late Bruce Kershaw, a teacher and singer, wrote this children's opera just before his recent and untimely death. It is based closely on the Oscar Wilde story and, therefore, unusually for a school piece, ends with the main character dying. The two principal singing parts are for the giant (a lower voice - though this can be adapted) and the boy. There are other roles for children, narrators and snow, wind and hail.

The tunes are mainly simple, based on scale passages; the harmony is also straightforward, using many successions of triads. But within this undemanding framework there develops a most affecting and expressive piece, with a continuous flow of melodic invention. There are also optional parts for classroom percussion and recorders.

The piece lasts about 45 minutes; it will make a moving project for nine to 13-year-olds, and provide the audience with an occasion to think, feel and experience life's bitter-sweetness.

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