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A Magical Journey:

Joy, Collaboration,

Ideas & Creativity


Post first published on May 29 2019

on Good Evening :: The Blog

written by Emily Gann (Producer)

One day, I had an idea...



It was on Christmas Day in 2014, when this journey began. As my daughter excitedly tore the wrapping paper off a gift, she revealed a strikingly beautiful children’s book underneath: What Do You Do With An Idea? by Kobi Yamada and Mae Besom. She proudly brought it over to show it to me and asked that I read her the story straight away. It was at this moment, as I began to read, that I sensed something rather magical about this book – a book that was soon to become a dearly treasured part of my life.


At the time, I was leading the Education and Community Program for the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra in South Australia – a job that gave me the opportunity to produce engaging music education programs for people of all ages. Most significantly, in my role I was encouraged to commission the creation of innovative new orchestral works, with the aim of inspiring and connecting young people to orchestral music.


For those of you who ever experienced listening to Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf as part of your childhood, you will no doubt recall the sense of wonder and anticipation that the narrative, combined with the carefully crafted orchestral score, so effectively evoked. Stories offer a very powerful means through which to engage young minds with the rich sound-world of an orchestra. By sparking the vivid imagination and creativity of a young listener, the adventure or journey within a text can serve to amplify the tones, moods and emotions conveyed by the score. Put simply, the right book paired with the right composer is a compelling combination.


And so, as I read this inspiring book to my daughter on that Christmas afternoon, a little idea was born.


Over the next months, I explored the idea with intense drive and energy, working to build a proposal that would see this book developed into a unique orchestral production. When I originally came to pitch my vision to colleagues at the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, I was thrilled to gain their full support. And, as they went away to find the means through which to make the commission possible, it was my job to engage the right collaborator/ composer/creative director – someone who not only was an exceptional composer, but who also had the fundamental vision, passion, and commitment to connect with the hearts and minds of audiences of all ages.


And there was no doubt in my mind who that person was.


Paul Rissmann.


For anyone who has not had the privilege of experiencing Paul’s music or concerts, I urge you to do so. A Scottish-born composer and music educationalist, Paul has spent the last two decades whole-heartedly dedicating himself to inspiring and nurturing young people through music. His award-winning compositions, acclaimed interactive orchestral concerts, and cutting-edge creative projects with orchestras and young people across the globe, are unparalleled.


Paul was the perfect composer to bring the perfect book to life.


With much enthusiasm, Paul and I began to envision the possibilities of what this project would entail. It was to be an immersive experience that would push traditional boundaries, crafting together elements of theatre, dance, narrative, children’s voices, audience participation, visuals, lighting, staging and rich orchestral forces. The aspiration was to create a work that was sufficiently powerful and evocative to match and intensify the fundamental message of Yamada’s book.


As our vision grew, so did our creative team. Christie Anderson (choral director) and Carlie Angel (dancer/choreographer) – two exceptional artists from South Australia – brought with them the additional experience and skills that were vital for progressing our ambitious project. With the unwavering support and encouragement from author Kobi Yamada, a rich artistic partnership was born.


What Do You Do With An Idea? made its World Premiere on 15 June, 2018 at the Adelaide Town Hall. Attended by Kobi Yamada, the work was performed by the full forces of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Graham Abbott (conductor), 140 choristers of Young Adelaide Voices, Christie Anderson (choir conductor), Paul Rissmann (narrator) and Carlie Angel (dancer). Each element of the production was carefully crafted and delivered in a way that heightened the audience experience on every possible level. From the exquisite score of Paul Rissmann, to the lighting and imagery, shared song, evocative dance, powerful narrative, dressing of the hall and the exceptional performance quality – this was a night that I will never forget.


As the heartfelt finale song was sung from every corner of the hall, and as the audience was showered in confetti and golden ideas, there was not a dry eye in the house. The intensity of collective emotion at that moment, unequivocally assured us that we had just achieved something truly magical... something that might just even have the power to “change the world”.


And now I know what you do with an idea...

Emily Gann (2019)


[Rissmann's What Do You Do With an Idea? made its London debut at the Barbican in June 2019 performed by London Symphony Orchestra, Paul Rissmann, Carlie Angel, LSO Community Choir, LSO Discovery Choirs. Director: Victor Craven. Project Leader: Natasha Krichefski]

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