CELESTIAL - music with poems read by Michael Sheen
The recording of a 40-piece orchestra to accompany songs inspired by and featuring the poems of Johnnie Douglas-Pennant (aged 7).
CELESTIAL is a contemporary orchestral music project featuring songs and music by UK composer, Paul K Joyce. It is inspired by, and features the childhood poems of the late Johnnie Douglas-Pennant. Michael Sheen narrates, Steve Howe guests and Chris Watson provides soundscapes.
I'm hoping to raise £15,000 to cover the cost of a professional orchestral recording.
A 40-piece orchestra will record during two 3 hour sessions at a London studio.
Surmounting dyslexia and dyspraxia and aged only 7, Johnnie wrote movingly about nature, the sky, clouds and the death of his sister from Cystic Fibrosis.
A teacher who has backed CELESTIAL commented during a 'live' broadcast:
"I wanted to pass on the reason why I have backed you and would like to see your project succeed. Johnnie's poems need to be heard by a wider audience - for teachers of dyspraxic and dyslexic students and for parents too to show the promise of these students. They are a glimpse into the mind of a child with dyspraxia and show how their mind works. The poetry can teach us a lot."
Johnnie’s promising future was tragically cut short in 2004 when, aged 17 he died in a drowning accident. Following his death his family published his writings and words in Johnnie's Poems:
I first heard Johnnie’s poems on the radio and they had a profound effect on me. I love them because they’re a child’s honest, unconstrained view of the fragile beauty of our world.
Songs and poems
Following a commission in 2014 I set some of Johnnie's poems to music and have since developed a full orchestral arrangement.
Actor, Michael Sheen has recorded all the poems.
Other contributors include legendary Yes guitarist, Steve Howe...
..and sound recordist, Chris Watson.
Sing on the recording!
I am very excited about the idea of creating a global choir - a chance for you to record alongside some of the most talented artists in the world. All you need is a mobile phone or recording device. I'll send you an mp3 melody and backing track and you can record yourself singing a (very simple) melody. Your contribution will bring depth and scale to the recording.
Anyone can do this, and I want the whole world to sing on this recording! I have some wonderful melodies (if I say so myself!) that need lots of different voices to bring them alive.
There are lots of goodies which will hopefully tempt you to take part - dedicated scores; demo songs; a specially composed song and dedication; a digital download or CD of the finished project; Johnnie's Poems book signed by Michael Sheen, T-shirt and a day at the recording itself where I will buy you lunch. The biggest reward is of course helping to bring Johnnie Douglas-Pennant's wonderful poems to as wide an audience as possible and hopefully in the process, further our understanding of Dyslexia and Dyspraxia.
So please join me and help to ensure that the words of Johnnie Douglas-Pennant live forever.
Copies of the book, Johnnie's Poems are available in aid of Cystic Fibrosis support @£20 including P&P (UK only) from The Anna Trust, Tisbury House, Salisbury, SP3 6PZ UK.
Risks and challenges
My main challenge is to ensure that the scores for Celestial presented to the 40 players on the day of the recording are absolutely perfect. A note out of place, a confusing dynamic or 'spelling' can slow things down and break momentum and concentration. With two 3 hour sessions time will be precious. I have scored and conducted many orchestral sessions during my career so I'm confident that the recording will go smoothly. I've spent nearly 4 years developing the score from just piano and two voices to a full orchestra. The music will be in the hands of some of the best players in the music business.
I've helped create and develop many music and arts projects.
As co-founder of, and composer for UK site-specific theatre company, Creation Productions I helped realise 'Frankenstein' and 'Q - Live From A Quarry' (an adaptation of 'Quatermass And The Pit').
I provided the orchestral score and songs for the hit TV series, The Worst Witch. My on-set role included coaching the young, future Rogue One star, Felicity Jones.
In 2003 my score for The Snow Queen was recorded for CD release: https://soundcloud.com/pkj-music-ltd/the-snow-queen-suite-1
Featuring the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with narration by Juliet Stevenson it became the inspiration for a 2005 BBC TV special starring Patrick Stewart and Juliet Stevenson. I was executive producer and also wrote and conducted the incidental score played by the RPO.
2012 saw the release of 'Time', my collaboration with Yes guitarist, Steve Howe. I co-produced and arranged the album, created the score and conducted the orchestral ensemble.
- (23 days)