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Jack Prelutsky is a prolific and widely anthologised American poet, whose poetry is mostly written for children. My introduction to his poetry was through the book The Dragons are Singing Tonight, and in 1996 I set a selection of those poems for choir and brass band. Subsequently I have set many of his poems, including a second cycle Monday's Troll. In 2005 I wrote Awful Ogre's Awful Day as an offering to Napier Civic Choir on the occasion of the choir's 40th anniversary. The choir had performed The Dragons are Singing Tonight previously, and I had intended this new work to be also performed with brass band. A performance never took place, and for several years the score remained just as a vocal score. When I was invited to conduct Napier Civic Choir in 2010 I decided it was time the work saw the light of day, although it would need to be scored for chamber orchestra to match the forces available in the concert (the major work being Haydn's Nelson Mass).
Almost all the poems are written from the title character's point of view and in the first person, and I have had to divide the poems between choir and solo baritone who represents Awful Orgre.
The cycle Awful Ogre's Awful Day is, as the title suggests, a cycle of text which takes us through the title character's day: he rises and then grooms himself employing some rather unpleasant sounding cosmetics! Awful Ogre fancies himself to be musical (and later a dancer) and boasts of his abilities on bass, xylophone, bongo drums, and as a singer. In the fourth movement he also boasts of how awful he is: '...the awfullest of all.'
1. Awful Ogre Rises
2. Awful Ogre Grooms Himself
3. Awful Ogre's Music
4. Awful Ogre Boasts a Bit
5. Awful Ogre and the Storm
6. Awful Ogre Pens a Letter
7. Awful Ogre Dances
8. Awful Ogre Goes to Bed
9. Epilogue: Awful Ogre's Awful Dream
Text by Jack Prelutsky
15 Aug 2010: Napier Civic Choir Concert