A CHILD’S LONDON was composed in London in 1984 for my daugher Katherine, then aged 8, who was having piano lessons with our neighbor, Ricci Horenstein. It was at Ms. Horenstein’s suggestion that I wrote a suite of pieces suitable for Katherine’s use.
A CHILD'S LONDON, originally a suite of piano pieces composed in 1984, was orchestrated, expanded, and given a narration in 1997 at the request of the Woodstock Chamber Orchestra. The premiere took place on Mary 8, 1997 in Kingston, New York, by that orchestra with Luis Garcia-Renart conducting and Paul Frazer narrating. At a later performance, in 2016, by the Vassar Orchestra with Eduardo Navega conducting, Meryl Streep narrated.
Narration for Richard Wilson’s A CHILD’S LONDON
1. Little Katherine was lost. She found London very confusing. Left in the lurch by her absent-minded father, she stumbled along a crowded road when a great, red double-decker bus appeared and stopped. Katherine reached into her pocket and pulled out some coins. She decided to take the plunge. She boarded the bus.
2. As the bus advanced along Prince Albert Road there was suddenly a loud report. A tire had exploded. The bus tipped precariously to one side. Poor Katherine. She jumped off and hurried down the road, which ran along Primrose Hill.
3. What Katherine had always wanted was to ride one of the paddle boats on Regent’s Canal. Was this to be her great chance? She summoned up all her courage and spoke to the boatman. “Even though I am only eight, I am precocious and intrepid. May I ride a boat all by myself?” The boatman was dubious--but he agreed.
4. Katherine piloted the paddle boat with a wonderful sureness of touch. It glided gently along the canal safely clear of the other boats. As she came along side the London Zoo, she felt a great desire to stop and visit the Orang-outang cage. She had once met Mrs. Orang-outang through a mutual friend of her father’s. She thought it would be fun to see her again and catch up on the family.
5. Mrs. Orang-outang was vexed. An exhibit of costumes at the Victoria and Albert Museum, recently put on display, had falsely represented certain of her relatives as apes and gorillas. She was considering taking legal action. Katherine advised quiet negotiations. She would visit the exhibition herself and see what could be done. She then hailed a taxi and rode to South Kensington.
6. The museum director was initially cranky and intractable. But Katherine applied her wizardly charm and he became unexpectedly amenable.
7. He agreed to alter the exhibition to suit Mrs. Orang-outang wishes. Feeling that her diplomacy had paid off, Katherine rewarded herself with a visit to Battersea Amusement Park where she whiled away the evening riding the roundabout (merry-go-round).