“Hamelin is a rich city. Its inhabitants, however, are indulgent and selfish. When winter comes, Hamelin fills with thousands of mice, eating its residents out of house and home. And when all hope seems lost, a man appears, dressed in colourful clothes and holding only a recorder in his hands. He promises to rid them of the mice, as long as the people agree to donate food and clothes to the poverty-stricken villagers nearby. The Piper removes all traces of mice from the city, but the residents refuse to honour their agreement. Then the strange little man teaches them a lesson that they – and we – will remember forever....”
Putting a creative spin on the classic German story of the Pied Piper, The Magic Recorder is a musical tale of ingratitude, greed, and compassion that has been adapted into a stage production as well as a book and CD. This theatrical romp is the product of a successful partnership between Canada and Greece, during which two different children’s choirs – one from Montreal and one from Athens – came together to perform in an innovative cross-cultural project.
The Chroma Musika/Socrates children’s choir from Montreal is comprised of over fifty children of Hellenic origin. Together with the Ta Zouzounia children’s choir of Athens and the symphony orchestra Ensemble Sinfonia de Montréal, the project involved Greek and Canadian artistic professionals from both sides of the Atlantic. All in all, over 200 people participated in the making of The Magic Recorder. Chroma Musika Canada and Modern Times Publishers (in Greece) are both committed to familiarizing children with classical music and literature, and the partnership proved to be a fruitful one.
The launch event in Athens, which was held in the filled-to-capacity Dimitris Horn Theatre with the support of the Embassy of Canada, included performances of excerpts from The Magic Recorder and videos from a similar celebration held in Montreal. The founders and artistic directors of Chroma Musika – tenor Dimitris Ilias and soprano Maria Diamantis – were present for the event, along with Canadian Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Allison Stewart, who congratulated all the partners for bringing to life a project involving youth in a cross-cultural collaboration.
The Magic Recorder is sure to be a memorable event for all participants, children and adults alike. The wealthy citizens of Hamelin may have needed a supernatural intervention to learn their lesson, but the talented children of the production needed only a bit literary magic – and a dash of cross-cultural collaboration – to learn all about the pleasure of working with their international peers.