Jonathan Santore, Composer
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The Unicorn in the Garden

Listen to a live performance (with dancers) by the New Hampshire Master Chorale conducted by Dan Perkins, conductor.


  • Score: $3 (for reproduction rights; minimum purchase of 10 required; additional charge for hard copies); set of parts: $12
  • For SATB chorus and mixed ensemble
  • Secular text (setting of the short story "Unicorn in Garden" from James Thurber's book Fables for Our Time)
  • 10:00
  • Difficulty rating (1-5): 4
  • View a PDF score excerpt
  • Purchase, request full review copy or more information, etc.

The Unicorn in the Garden was commissioned and premiered by the New Hampshire Master Chorale, Dan Perkins, Music Director.

When I was a young composer, I heard a story about Stravinsky’s process—that, from time to time, in order to keep himself fresh, he would set himself tasks and requirements for a given day’s output—“Today, I will not write any major seconds,” etc. For him, having to work within these guidelines sparked and spurred his creativity. One of my great joys as Composer in Residence for the New Hampshire Master Chorale is the opportunity I get to craft works to meet the specific needs or programming themes of the Chorale for a particular concert series—I find that the process of addressing these issues sparks my creativity!

When Dan Perkins, NHMC’s Music Director, told me that he was programming Menotti’s The Unicorn, the Gorgon, and the Manticore, my mind immediately leaped to my favorite mythical creature text, James Thurber’s “The Unicorn in the Garden,” one of his Fables for Our Time. Thanks to the kind consideration of Thurber’s daughter Rosemary, and the estate’s literary agent Barbara Hogenson, I was able to obtain the rights to set this text. Of course, looking at the titles of the other Fables just makes me want to set more—"The Tiger Who Understood People," "The Bear Who Let It Alone" ...

Read the text.

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