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Author Dan Brown 'deeply moved' by performance with N.B. children's orchestra


Dan Brown is known worldwide for being the bestselling author of the “The Da Vinci Code” but people may not know he is also a longtime composer of music.

Brown’s “Wild Symphony” concert and accompanying picture book brought him to the Maritimes this week.

He performed three shows in Moncton, N.B., Tuesday, narrating the production with the Sistema New Brunswick Children's Orchestra.

Brown says he grew up wanting to be a musician as his mother was a professional musician and his father was a singer.

“We had no television, my parents said, ‘We want you to play music and read books,’ and that’s what I did,” he told CTV Atlantic’s Todd Battis during an interview Tuesday.

“My fondest memories as a kid were listening to my mom’s classical record collection and reading picture books. And, at some point, I wanted to create that similar experience for young people and that’s really what ‘Wild Symphony’ is – it’s a whole lot of fun, and it’s classical music.”

While the “Wild Symphony” book is for children, it features themes readers of Brown’s other books may be familiar with – keys, codes and cyphers.

“A child came up to me and said, ‘I can’t find this, where is it?’ and I said, ‘You just have to keep looking, it’s in there, I promise!’”

Sistema is a musical education program founded in Venezuela in the 1970s and has since expanded worldwide.

Brown said he doesn’t attend events in person very often, but says he was “amazed” when he heard of the success of Sistema New Brunswick.

“When the producer called and said, ‘Would you consider coming up (from New Hampshire)?’ I said ‘I wouldn’t miss it.’ And when I say these kids are good, these kids are fantastic. They are playing at a level that, all of us, in my group that came up with me, we just couldn’t understand how these little children had learned so quickly and so well to play music, and I was deeply moved on stage to sit there and hear this music coming over me.”

Sistema New Brunswick operates nine centres across New Brunswick, with 1,100 children taking part each day, according to its website.

Brown said he hopes Sistema New Brunswick becomes viral “in the best sense of the word.”

“What they’re doing is not only a beautiful thing, it’s actually really important work. They’re giving kids direction and in some cases hope, and probably saving lives on some level. It is astonishing, the reach that they’ve had, and Sistemas around the world,” he said.

Brown said there is a strong correlation between writing novels and symphonies, which is based on structure.

“You have to understand tension and release. A good line of music creates tension and releases it. A good chapter creates tension and releases it, a good sentence creates tension and releases it. You have to understand dynamics,” he said.

“You can’t have three triple forte sections in a row and you can’t have three car chases in a row. You have to understand thematic material. In a novel, thematic material rises and falls at the right moment, and music it does too. They’re very, very similar – tempo, pacing, theme, I find them very, very closely related.”

While “Wild Symphony” may seem like a sudden change in Brown’s career, he said he actually started the project right out of college.

He decided to finish it and make it orchestral in the middle of the pandemic.

“It was a sanctuary. It was a place that I could go and really dive into my first love, which was music. I did it kind of simultaneously, I’ve been writing a book that I just recently turned in for final edits. It has taken me five years and the symphony was an occasional palate cleanser while I was doing that,” he said.

While Brown can’t confirm when his next novel will be released, he said it is a Robert Langdon thriller.

“It is a big, intricate book. It has taken me a while,” he said.

“People are saying, ‘What has taken you so long?’ – I think when people read it they’ll say, ‘Oh, that’s what took so long.’”

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