If you asked a child, “Who was the most famous flautist in the world?”, you might get two responses — Sir James Galway or the Pied Piper of Hamelin.
Time differences apart, arguably both could lay claim to the title.
The Pied Piper has been much in the news here of late, thanks to an inspired and inspiring project headed up by local composer Brian Irvine — something of a pied-piper figure himself.
As Associate Composer with the Ulster Orchestra, he's designed a major cross-community project as part of the Ulster Orchestra's extensive work with young people. It will all culminate on March 14, 2009 in a procession to the City Hall, Belfast, colourfully choreographed by the Beat Initiative. No doubt there'll be town councillors and rats and, of course, the Mayor in all his regalia.
Well, that bit remains to be seen perhaps. But Brian's project has already had the huge honour of being awarded the London 2012 Inspire Mark as part of the Cultural Olympiad.
The Pied Piper also provided the inspiration for a new children's opera by another locally born composer — Conor Mitchell. Entitled The Musician and commissioned by the children's theatre company Cahoots NI, Conor's spellbinding opera is described as “a dark and magical production featuring live music and is the perfect seasonal antidote to the usual Christmas pantomimes”.
If you're looking for something new, it's suitable for children aged six to eleven and their families and will last about an hour.
Staged at the Old Museum Arts Centre in Belfast, Conor Mitchell's new show runs every day from December 8-20.