Murder Most Musical, Lemony Brings in the Goth at the San Francisco Symphony


The Cellos and bass are weary from dragging their large bodies around.  Likewise, the percussion instruments are beat.

(They had employed xylophoniness and cymbalism, you see). Such orchestral shenanigans bare the distinctively peculiar mark of Lemony Snicket, the pseudonymous author whose name is synonymous with macabre mayhem for the younger crowd.

he Composer is Dead”is a symphonic murder mystery in which strings and horns and reeds all seem to have a very good alibi. But still the composer is mostly decomposing.

Part of the San Francisco Symphony’s Music for Families series, this kids concert is narrated by Lemony Snicket (A Series of Unfortunate Events) --  who may or may not be San Francisco native.  Daniel Handler

Handler (or is it Snicket?) wrote the text for and will narrate this murder investigation-slash-introductory symphony on, March 29 at Davies Symphony Hall and April 4 at the Flint Center in Cupertino.

Like Peter and the Wolf,  the Composer is Dead is catnip for kids.  San Francisco composer and SFS Youth Orchestra alumnus Nathaniel Stookey composed the symphony to serve as a spoonful of sugar for otherwise snoozy students of sometimes soporific music.

The story introduces kids to the instruments of the symphony and anthropomorphizes them with drollery suitable for persons of all age. Who killed the Composer? Each instrument points an accusing finger elsewhere.  The flutes? Too wimpy and high pitched for murder. The trumpets accuse the french horns. The trumpets are patriots(they announce the arrival of kings and presidents)  But the French horns? Foreigners.

The book and CD of “the Composer is Dead” was published last week. Also on record for older fans of music Lemony-style is “Songs from A Series of  Unfortunate Events.” This “Gothic Archies” CD was released in conjunction with the 13th and final Lemony Snicket tome. It’s a  dark, witty goth-synth rock album for Lemony readers or your garden variety gloomy adolescents, who, in my day, listened to The Smiths or Joy Division.

Like the novels, the bleak, brooding songs – with titles like “Scream and Run Away”  “Smile! No One Cares How You Feel” – are a creepy good time.

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