tenor, horn, and string orchestra [also possible with string quintet or piano] (about 18 minutes)
Western art music has seen many time-tested ensembles, such as the string quartet, brass quintet, symphony orchestra, and Pierrot ensemble. Meanwhile, there have been other instrumental combinations for which, although they have been artistically successful, a limited number of compositions have been written. One such work is Benjamin Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings. Although Britten composed this work in 1943, there have been no other widely performed works for this ensemble. Paul Osterfield's Animal Crackers (2008) for tenor, horn, and strings, is meant to be a companion piece for the Britten. Although Osterfield's work is written for the same ensemble, the style and subject matter are quite different. Whereas Britten focused on nocturnal texts and is quite serious in nature, Osterfield's cycle is more light-hearted, both in style and content.
Each of the seven poems, several of which are intended for children, is about animals. Animal Crackers opens with a setting of William Makepeace Thankery's "At the Zoo," which introduces us to many different animals, one after another. Each of the other poems paints a picture about other animals. Christina Rossetti's "Caterpillar" describes the insect, in the end transforming into a butterfly. Richard Scrafton Sharpe's "The Country Mouse and the City Mouse" tells a story about two mice from different backgrounds and lifestyles. The following song sets the first stanza of William Blake's "The Lamb" to slow and reflective music. The final three poems "D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson's "That Little Black Cat," Lewis Carroll's "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bat," and Gelett Burgess's ""The Purple Cow") are short, humorous texts, which are grouped musically as a set.
Score will be available for purchase shortly. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will let you know when it is available.