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Beckenham composer’s lion-themed opera promises to be a roaring success

09:32 06 February 2017

The opera will tell the tale of St Jerome and the Lion

The opera will tell the tale of St Jerome and the Lion

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The opera will tell the story of a lion who lives in a monastery

A Beckenham composer is to write an opera for local children’s choirs about a lion who comes to live in a monastery.

James Olsen, who attended Balgowan and Saint Olave’s schools, will write One of our Brothers is a Lion!, which tells the centuries-old story of Saint Jerome and the Lion.

The saint is said to have removed a thorn from a lion’s paw — a subject familiar to art lovers from numerous paintings of this subject.

After the thorn is removed, the lion joins the monastery and is even given a job by Saint Jerome. Man and beast live in harmony until, one day, the monastery’s donkey goes missing - and the brothers blame the lion.

The work will be performed by the Beckenham Junior Choir (BJC) and Youth Voices.

Mr Olsen said: “My experiences with the BJC fostered in me a love for making music with young people and amateurs which is still very much part of why I’m a composer today. There’s a special British tradition of composers writing for communities, following Benjamin Britten, of which I’m proud to be a part.

“It’s a great privilege to be composing for the Beckenham choirs again, and I hope that my retelling of this extraordinary medieval story, which is both touching and hilarious, will be a memorable experience for all involved.”

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