Music from “The Monkey King”

With our 6th grade production of “The Monkey King” in full swing, we sat down with Resident Artist Chris Schroeder to learn about his experience and process in writing the musical score for this production:

“Music has the ability to express emotion, paint a picture, and even tell a story. When asked to prepare the music for “The Monkey King” I focused on two objectives: compose a musical score that was inclusive for a wide range of musical abilities and bring this heroic, yet light-hearted story to life. My first step was to immerse myself in the music and instruments of 16th century Chinese culture. Then I looked to the characters in the story for musical inspiration. In a typical musical or opera music score, a composer writes short musical “sound bites,” or motifs, which help the audience create a clearer image of each characters personality and role within the story. For example, the Jade Emperor, often referred to as the Heavenly Grandfather and Highest Emperor exudes a grace and power that I represented with the sounds of royal brass and ethereal woodwinds. In the case of Ear and Eye, two comedic characters that accompany Jade Emperor, their motif is an quirky fanfare that is a bit out-of-tune and sounds somewhat disorganized. Using the various motifs and two Chinese melodies that the students learned about during their Silk Road Learning Expedition, I composed an overture, which highlights all the musical elements that the audience will experience throughout the production.”


The students and Mr. Schroeder have enjoyed rehearsing all of the beautiful music of “The Monkey King” and are looking forward to share their work in early June. The first performance is at Conservatory Lab on June 3rd at 3:00 and a second performance at Roxbury Community College on June 6 at 5:30. Both performances are free and open to the public.