“To Awaken the Sun” is an album of classical music recorded to take music into public schools, with CD sales benefiting the Oklahoma Foster Youth. Tracks 1-2 are based on Chickasaw Children songs, composed by Chickasaw composer Jerod Tate. Breck McGough’s composition “To Awaken the Sun” (tracks 4-21) is based on a short story by Angela Morris for children about a group of sailors (represented by individual modern instruments) and their adventures meeting new people and unfamiliar animals on a distant island (characterised by baroque instruments). They get to know each other and make music in perfect unison at the end. The Narrator John Barthell tells the story and introduces each scene (track).
Evaluation comments from our NAPPA Awards Music Judge:
“To Awaken The Sun is not your typical children’s album. Some might not even call it one. An acclaimed cellist, Remy-Schumacher has created an album of classical music that is nearly an hour long and predominately instrumental. These attributes might present a challenge to children’s ears. But who’s to say that youngsters won’t have the patience or interest to listen to classical music? What can be said is that Remy-Schumacher has created an album of lovely classical music that is well worth a listen for people of any age. The main child-oriented portion of the album is the ”To Awaken The Sun” section, which combines brief narration with short musical passages to tell a story involving contemporary and baroque instruments – something somewhat akin to Peter & The Wolf or Carnival of Animals. Opening the album are two pieces whose names translate as “Children’s Songs.” While stirring and intriguing, these pieces feature probably Chickasaw language and melodies and might be more accessible for middle schooler than young children (it’s hard to tell if the CD booklet offers kid-friendly explanations, but would be helpful). A later section of the album features six selections from Leonard Bernstein’s Thirteen Anniversaries; however, the people commemorated are rather obscure to the general public (save for Stephen Sondheim) and this could hinder children from getting involved in the pieces. These points aside, To Awaken The Sun contains wonderfully performed music that could easily awaken an interest in classical music, although it is probably more appealing for older children and adults than little kids.”