A Secular Cantata

Based on Roald Dahl's The Giraffe and The Pelly and Me

Music by Peter Ash

Text adapted by Donald Sturrock

For chorus, narrator and chamber orchestra


45 minutes

Published by Music Link International

“The Pelicantata is a beautiful, exhilarating piece which had the audience on its feet. The words are witty, the composition is immaculate, and the use of a young chorus gives the evening a playful and contemporary feel. I’m sure Roald Dahl would have loved it.”

Sir Tony Robinson

Sir Tony Robinson - The Pelicantata - Stroud Choral Society
The Pelicantata
The Pelicantata - Stroud Choral Society
'The Minpins' Choir - The Pelicantata - Stroud Choral Society
'The Minpins' Choir - The Pelicantata - Stroud Choral Society
The Pelicantata - Stroud Choral Society
'The Minpins' Choir - The Pelicantata - Stroud Choral Society
The Pelicantata - Stroud Choral Society
Peter Ash and Donald Sturrock - The Pelicantata - Stroud Choral Society
The Pelicantata

The Pelicantata is the newest of the Roald Dahl musical adaptations, and the first piece commissioned for choir. Bringing a narrator in to join the adult and children's choirs, Peter Ash and Donald Sturrock have created a unique and vibrant choral extravaganza.

The piece is full of fun and appealing musical characterisation. Highlights include: a Handelian fugue based on Roald's description of the front of Hampshire House with its 677 filthy windows, and a Purcellian catch depicting the Pelican's hunger. Each animal is brought to life by a different instrument: the Giraffe is a contra-bassoon, the Pelly a cor anglais, and the Monkey a flugel horn.

The Pelicantata - Stroud Choral Society / Huw Williams / Sir Tony Robinson

Bath Abbey, 2017


Adult Choir

Children's Choir (or Semi-Chorus)

Optional Audience Participation...

Chamber Orchestra Version I - 20 players

2 oboes (2nd doubling cor anglais)

1 bassoon (doubling contra bassoon)

2 trumpets (2nd doubling flugelhorn) with two mutes each (straight and harmon);

1 percussionist/timpanist

small triangle, ratchet, whip, bell tree, 2 wood blocks (medium and high), telephone (optional bell tree), medium supended cymbal, clash cymbals

piccolo snare drum, bass drum, 3-4 timpani (20", 26", 29")

1 organ

strings (minimum C))


Peter Ash: “That scoring uses the forces that might be expected for a standard choral society concert in the UK. I imagined a 30 minute 1st half of Chandos anthems or a Mozart Mass followed by The Pelicantata in the 2nd half. That being said, it would work well in a much larger "Prom" version with expanded strings, and particularly when there is a large concert organ available.”

Chamber Ensemble Version II - 7 players (coming soon)

flute, oboe (doubling cor anglais), clarinet,

bassoon (doubling contra bassoon), horn, piano and percussion

Chamber Ensemble Version III - 3 players (coming soon)

organ, harp and percussion/timps


The piano reduction in the vocal score, which can be adapted for organ, may be used for concert performance if one of the ensembles above is not available.


For more about Roald Dahl's The Giraffe and The Pelly and Me



Stroud Choral Society/Huw Williams

2017, Bath Abbey

Sir Tony Robinson narrated the World Premiere performance at Bath Abbey and was joined by the wonderful children of "The Minpins", a children's choir set up with the support of Liccy Dahl especially for this piece.

The premiere received a rapturous standing ovation from a packed Bath Abbey. The piece was designed to be performed by, and to appeal to all ages.

Click here to read a blogpost from Peter Ash about composing the piece.

"Peter Ash has penned a witty musical counterpoint to Donald Sturrock's hugely enjoyable adaptation of Dahl's tale. The work's characterful, vivid instrumental colours make the whacky dramatis personae leap from the score, with especially generous vocal writing to suit a gifted amateur chorus and a well-drilled children's choir. Full of cheeky charm and gentle lampooning of the English upper classes, The Pelicantata cries out to be animated or staged. One of Britain's venerable country house festivals could have a lot of fun with this..."

Ashutosh Khandekhar

Editor in Chief, Opera Now

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