A giant stopped by to visit the Sibley Ocheyedan elementary students last Friday, April 29.
Although the giant wasn’t a literal figure, the students were transported through a multimedia experience to a land where children and a giant coexist. Composer Dan Goeller of Sioux Falls, SD presented his multimedia musical interpretation of Oscar Wilde’s classic 1888 story “The Selfish Giant”.
“I recently rediscovered this story from my childhood when I read it to my two young daughters,” Goeller said. “I thought that an adaptation for symphony orchestra and narrator would be the perfect way to bring this beautiful fairy tale to life for a new generation.”
To bring this fairy tale to life, Goeller embarked on a year long journey of recording and publishing. As a composer and conductor, Goeller started his own print music company, Dan Goeller Music, a few years ago when his family moved from Nashville to Sioux Falls. “But in addition to publishing the music for live performances of “The Selfish Giant”, I also wanted to give families who might not be able to attend a live performance, an opportunity to hear the music and see the artwork,” he added.
Therefore, Goeller established a book publishing company, Noteworthy Books, to publish and market the book. While Goeller was working on the musical score for “The Selfish Giant”, he hired award?winning artist Chris Beatrice to illustrate. He then conducted recording sessions with members of the Nashville Symphony and with acclaimed English actor Martin Jarvis—who voices the narration—in Los Angeles.
After all the efforts and hard work, the fairy tale indeed comes to life for children in a beautiful hard?cover picture book. Along with the book, an audio CD follows the story, with twenty?four minutes of Goeller’s original music.
“Making this story come to life with music and artwork was thrilling,” Goeller stated. “I also love seeing the reactions of children as well as hearing from enthusiastic parents about how much their family is enjoying this project. I have received pictures of little kids as young as three with the book on their laps as they listen to the CD and that is priceless.”
As with any work of art, Goeller admits this project did not come without lessons to be learned and challenges. “I have to admit, that I had no idea how expensive it is to publish a book… especially a children’s hardcover book with an audio CD of this quality. I also did not anticipate how long it takes to submit the book to reviewers before it can be released. That process takes about six months after the book is already completed. It’s a very long and expensive process,” Goeller confessed.
As for challenges, Goeller found marketing and promoting this project—along with seeking out reviews—to be challenging and time?consuming compared to composing the music and recording it.“ Production was also a challenge since there is the book as well as the audio CD component to manage simultaneously,” he added.
Goeller’s love for music and writing music started at a young age. It wasn’t until high school that he decided to pursue music composition in college. Goeller attended the University of Miami in Florida for one year and then transferred to Christopher Newport University in Virginia where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music theory composition. After college, Goeller launched his music career in Nashville, TN for eleven years before he and his wife, Heidi (Hansberger), moved to Sioux Falls, SD in February 2006.
“It’s a great place to raise a family,” Goeller said.
For twenty?five years, Goeller has been a composer whose colorful orchestrations and accessible compositional style have delighted both audiences and performers around the world. Numerous orchestras and choruses–including members of the National Symphony, Nashville Symphony, South Dakota Symphony and many others–have performed his music. Goeller's compositions have been programmed on several nationally?televised concerts, and have also been featured in both regional and national radio and television broadcast advertisements.
Goeller draws his inspiration for composing music from a variety of sources. “Composing has a lot to do with listening; I draw inspiration from many things,” he noted. He enjoys composing orchestral pieces like “The Selfish Giant”. “This sort of orchestral music seems to transport the listener to another world and hopefully leave them encouraged and inspired,” Goeller said.
Goeller admits to having an eclectic taste in music—both popular and traditional. He likes listening to what great composers can do with an orchestra. As far as what he enjoys the most about being a composer, Goeller stated, “Communicating profound ideas and intense emotions without ever speaking a word... that is the power of music. I believe that it is my responsibility, as a composer, to share beauty, truth and goodness with the world. This ancient artistic triumvirate helps to give meaning to life and hopefully inspire others as well.”
As for future plans for adapting other literary classics to music, illustration, and narration, Goeller has lots of ideas in mind, but yet he knows “The Selfish Giant” will have to be wildly successful to provide the financial means to produce similar adaptations. However, if the opportunity does arise, Goeller would like to do a series of shorter pieces with art and symphonic music that explore American folk tales like John Henry and Paul Bunyan.
When Goeller has free time, he enjoys spending time with his wife and little girls. “One great thing about being a composer is that I can work from home, so I can spend time with my girls,” he added. Goeller also enjoys cooking. His wife, Heidi, keeps busy with being a mom, home schooling, and assisting Goeller with the music business. “I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without my wife,” Goeller said. “It’s all about teamwork.”
“The Selfish Giant” hardcover picture book with audio CD is available at the Porch on Main or on the website: http://www.selfishgiantmusic.com/buy. The website also features videos, lesson plans, discussion guides, and other interesting information about the project and its creators.
Goeller concluded, “I hope ‘The Selfish Giant’ will cultivate a lifelong love of music, art and literature in children of all ages. I also help that the timeless themes of love, sharing and redemption will also be taken to heart by all those who have an opportunity to experience this unique project.”