‘Da Vinci Code’ author brings animal-themed classical music performance to Portland

Dan Brown, author of “The Da Vinci Code,” didn’t have a television or radio in his house growing up. His mother de el, a classical musician, and father, a math teacher, encouraged imagination, and so Brown did a lot of reading. Dr. Seuss was a favorite of his.

But Brown also spent many hours listening to his mother’s classical records. He said, for a while, he didn’t even know other styles of music existed. They are some of his fondest memories of him and served as inspiration for his latest work of him, a children’s book titled “Wild Symphony,” illustrated by Hungarian artist Susan Batori, that was released in September 2020 alongside 21 pieces of classical music that he also composed.

Dan Brown, the best-selling author of “The Da Vinci Code,” and other novels, has written a children’s book, “Wild Symphony,” and also composed 21 pieces of symphonic music that accompany his words. Photo by Dan Courter, courtesy of author Dan Brown

“I think my hope was to re-create that fusion between children’s books and classical music that I experienced and share it with modern kids,” Brown said in an interview.

The author, who grew up and lives in nearby New Hampshire, has been touring all over the world and will make an appearance Sunday at Merrill Auditorium in Portland, where he will read his book while the Portland Symphony Orchestra performs his music, conducted by director Eckart Preu.

Sunday’s show is the second of three in the symphony’s 2022 Discovery Concert series, which is aimed at children ages 4-12. Director of artistic operations Eva Tartaglia said the first show in this year’s series, on March 27, was the first Discovery Concert in two years because of the pandemic.

“There is a lot of really good music targeted at kids, but to offer a good variety, that can be hard,” she said. “The goal is to introduce them to symphony music and maybe provide an entertaining story.”

The price point – tickets are just $10 – also is meant to entice all audiences. The shows run just under an hour, but children also get the chance to meet and even try conducting musicians beforehand.

Brown said the performances are geared toward children but will appeal to a wider audience as well.

“Classical music, I think, can be intimidating for a lot of people,” he said. “This hopefully has kids, and parents, saying, ‘Wait, this can be fun?’ ”

Each piece of music is written with a particular animal in mind, led by Maestro Mouse.

Although this is Brown’s first composed work for orchestra, he has a deep background in music. He studied music at Amherst College in Massachusetts and was a musician and songwriter long before he became a bestselling fiction writer.

“People who know me aren’t surprised, but there are some whose reaction has been, ‘Wait a minute. You wrote the music?’ ” he said. “I don’t see writing music as much different from writing prose. You can’t write either if you don’t understand structure, if you don’t understand dynamics and pacing.

Brown said he’s accomplished what he wanted with “Wild Symphony,” but may do more composing in the future. At the moment, he’s working on another novel featuring symbology expert Robert Langdon, the protagonist of “The Da Vinci Code,” and “Angels & Demons.” He’s since written three more books in that series.

Three of his novels have been made into Hollywood movies, and Variety reported Wednesday that “Wild Symphony” will be turned into an animated movie, written by Akiva Goldsman, who adapted the script for “The Da Vinci Code.”

Brown said he always loves coming to Portland, which is an easy drive from his home in New Hampshire.

“I generally eat,” he said, laughing, when asked what he likes to do here. “You have some pretty good restaurants.”


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