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The Constellations - a guide to the orchestra

The Constellations - a Guide to the Orchestra

by Jonathan Peters

Released 2008
Released 2008
Musical story telling at its best.
"The Constellations - A guide to the orchestra" teaches people about the instruments of the orchestra, star constellations, and the Greek myths using narration and musical story telling. Each star constellation is represented by a different instrument of the orchestra culminating in the beauty and wonder of the night sky (the entire orchestra). Each track contains a short narration of a Greek myth, followed by a musical representation of the myth. The CD can be played with or without the narration. Pictures of the instruments are included. Very easy listening for all ages!

Includes activities, resources and discussion questions. Download at:

*****This spectacular production provides some information about Greek mythology, the constellations, and the orchestra. Performed expertly by the Vienna Symphonic Orchestra, the CD is divided into 14 movements, each one about a mythological character, several of whom were turned into constellations by the gods. Short introductions to each piece are expressively narrated by Michael Thomas Grumbine in a deep, mellow voice. He also provides some information about each mythological character and why he or she was turned into a constellation. The movements include "Perseus" (trumpets), "Pegasus" (violins), "Andromeda and Cetus" (flutes and double bass), "Hercules" (trombones and timpani), "Leo" (percussion), "Hydra" (viola, cello), "Lyra" (harp), "Lepus" (piccolo), "Orion and Scorpius" (French horn and oboe), "Delphinus" (clarinet), "Gemini" (glockenspiel and xylophone), "Ursa Major and Minor" (tuba, bassoon and contrabassoon), "Eridanus" (celesta), and "The Night Sky" (entire orchestra). Then all the movements are repeated without narration. The teacher's guide, which was not seen, can be accessed at This is an excellent and unique introduction to Greek mythology and orchestral instruments.—Beverly Bixler, San Antonio Public Library, TX

This CD is part of the "Scholastic Music Series". More information about this series can be found at:



Both fun and educational!! This CD is a great tool for teachers. Not only do the kids learn about each instrument of the orchestra but they also learn about star constellations and Greek/Roman mythology all at the same time. As a music teacher I found this CD to work well for all age groups. It’s not too long for younger kids and can hold their attention spans. There are also multiple ways you can use the CD for different levels of learning. For younger children you can have them match the instrument pictures to the music they are hearing. You can also play back the tracks without the narration (a wonderful option on this CD) and see if they can recognize which instrument is playing. For older kids you can have them try and identify each musical theme in the finale and see if they can tell you which movement it came from and which instrument theme it is. Although I would definitely recommend this CD to other teachers for children, it is also just a very enjoyable work for music lovers of all ages.
- Andrew (music teacher)


"The Constellations - A Guide to the Orchestra", is a wonderful piece of music for either a concert for young people or a standard orchestra concert. This enthralling piece demonstrates a complete scope of orchestral timbres through musical characterizations of the mythology behind the star constellations. We programmed the piece as a multi-media presentation with slides of the constellations shown during narration and music. The concert ended up being standing-room-only. The music is playable by a good youth orchestra and was a favorite of our musicians. I believe that The Constellations will eventually find its way into the hands of professional orchestras, where it will enter the repertoire for young persons concerts. I strongly recommend this piece to all Music Directors looking for a dynamic piece of music with a multitude of educational connections.
- Andy Radford, Music Director Santa Barbara Youth Symphony


Last April we hosted a concert at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History where "The Constellations" was played for our family visitors. The auditorium was packed and after the concert everyone was delighted about the music. It is an amazing piece of music both for the wonderful sounds produced and its educational content. As you listen to the music, the myths behind the constellations come alive, giving more meaning to each instrument.
- Javier Rivera, Astronomy Programs manager, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History