Everyone knows Prokofiev's Peter & The Wolf ...You may never had heard of Prokofiev or have ever listened to his story about a little boy catching a wolf ...but I can assure you when you hear Peter's theme, you will know it ... it is oh so familiar like a smell you haven't been exposed to in a long time ...or an old childhood friend you haven't seen in years...

A couple of years ago I was approached by the Irish Hospice Foundation to take part in a classical charity event entitled 'Con Anima'. With the orchestra of the Royal Irish Academy of Music, I narrated Prokofiev's Peter & The Wolf live in Dublin Castle on the 21st November 2000. The performance was a great success and afterwards there was talk of the possibility of one day recording an interpretation of the work for the Irish Hospice Foundation.

In the early summer of last year, my long-time musical collaborator Maurice Seezer and I decided to tackle our own version of the Prokofiev classic, a difficult task as both of us have very fond childhood memories of this musical fairy tale. We decided not to go the orchestral route with it as it had been done so many times this way, and yet despite this we wanted to stick to Prokofiev's original intentions ...which was to introduce children (and adults) to the instruments of the orchestra. We ousted the orchestra in favour of a small Ensemble...using musicians familiar with the worlds of classical music, jazz and rock. More importantly we wanted to create something magical ...a world where both children and adults could get lost... a world full of gothic fairytale madness, tongue in cheek humour whilst tipping our hat to the genius and beauty of the music. We used Banjo, Accordion, Mandolin, Cello, Percussion, Bass Clarinet, Flute, Piccolo, Piano and Double Bass ...a wonderful pot pourri of instruments...and over 3 to 4 days we all got lost in the music ...something special happened ...we were no longer musicians but sly, sexy pussycats, evil wolves, pretty birds, stupid ducks...

Gavin Friday


The creative person remains a big child to the end of his days, and if he loses his ability to communicate directly with universal feelings then he is no longer an artist


I first started working with Gavin about sixteen years ago. I rarely get to see him perform. I'm usually the guy playing the piano watching his back, so when I had the opportunity of sitting in the audience to witness a performance of Peter & The Wolf with Gavin narrating a few years back, I had to be there. Gavin made it his own that night. What struck me, though, was how simple it sounded and yet how fresh and complex the writing and orchestration. Prokofiev's genius with "Peter…" was to appeal on many different levels, the most obvious being it's appeal to both adult and child, but it also works on both commercial and artistic levels while having that simple/complex conundrum at it's heart. Ask any flute player what's it's like to play the part of the little bird and the initial smile may not linger too long! It was this seeming simplicity that inspired Gavin and I to go down a folksier road with this recorded version, that and the ability of each one of the musicians to "play" with the sound of their instruments. We adapted from the score, strayed a little from the forest path, and the result, while staying true to what we think Prokofiev intended (with the obvious exception of the instrumentation), tries to tease out both the humour and the menace within. Why did we change the instrumentation? To take the focus off the "instruments of the orchestra" millstone and to appreciate afresh the beauty of the melodies and the arrangements played by such non-orchestral instruments as the accordion, the banjo and the mandolin. If this seems presumptuous, all I can say is we had a lot of fun doing it, and we hope that this comes through in the performance.

Maurice Seezer

I remember standing with my head just below the level of the black and tobacco keys of my Granny's piano. I could reach them but I couldn't see them. I could hear the hammer hit the string & bone machine but I didn't know why, having hit one ivory, I could hear a sort of rhyme for it in my head, leading me through the din and clangour of choices to a melody. I knew then that music was a playground that for the rest of my life I would be chasing in.

Only problem was they sold the piano. I lost the argument to bring it to our house in Ballymun. I wanted to learn how to play the melodies I heard in my head. Poor Bono. No, poor you as it turns out. Everyone was going to pay for this … everyone was going to have to listen to me … Revenge like this takes a lifetime…

Revenge … on my father, a beautiful tenor who conducted our stereo with knitting needles, who never even imagined music might be handed down through the DNA like his bad back and bad temper … and so never bothered to bother us about learning an instrument. And revenge on music education, which teaches children to imitate rather than create. It's good to know the voice of the masters but not to have yours drowned out.

Peter and the Wolf is a lesson in how to teach. This is a new version of the Prokofiev classic by two of my favourite people and musicians, Gavin Friday and Maurice Seezer. It is for Hospice Care . . .these angels who were so ready to look after my father in his losing fight with cancer asked me to illustrate the book that accompanies the music. Ciaran O'Goara was art director and guide. I asked my girls Jordan and Eve to help me with detail and a filigree of flowers. I painted myself in a corner as PETER. My Da we made the grandfather, as he was to Jordan and Eve, my two daughters who loved and were loved by him. THE WOLF was ambition for things just out of reach.