Seminar Series

Music in the Soul:

The Fairy-tale Life of Hans Christian Andersen

A seminar with

Laura Simms

writer, storyteller, and Artistic Director of

The Hans Christian Andersen Storytelling Center, New York City

James Melo

Musicologist for the Ensemble for the Romantic Century and Senior Editor at RILM

Monday, april 1


CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue,

Skylight Room, 9th floor


For more information:; 212-817-8606

Presented by the Barry S. Brook Center for Music Research and Documentation, CUNY,

and the Ensemble for the Romantic Century in connection with ERC’s theatrical concert

Hans Christian Andersen: Tales Real and Imagined

Hans Christian Andersen needs no introduction. His fairy tales have been delighting children and adults alike for almost two centuries, and have become ingrained in our collective consciousness. The seminar reflects on the particular nature of Andersen’s sensibility, his love of music, his ambiguous sexuality, and his fairy-tale life as a mirror of his literary imagination. Storyteller Laura Simms will discuss aspects of Andersen’s fairy tales and will perform “The Little Match Girl” as a demonstration of Andersen’s feel for narrative and emotional expression.

Laura Simms is an award winning performer, writer, and educator advocating storytelling as compassionate action for personal and community transformation. She performs worldwide combining ancient myth and true life story for adult and family audiences.  She is the Artistic Director of the Hans Christian Andersen Storytelling Center in NY and the founder of The Center for Engaged Storytelling (new).   She has been  a Senior Research Fellow for the International Peace institute at Rutgers University Newark under the auspices of UNESCO.  As a spokesperson for storytelling she presents keynotes and workshops in conferences, villages, schools, universities and community events. She is a member of the Therapeutic Arts Alliance of Manhattan, and a senior teacher of Shambhala Buddhist meditation.  Laura received the Brimstone Award for Engaged Storytelling, CHOICE award for best story collection and Sesame Street’s SUNNY DAYS award for work with children worldwide. In 2011, she received a Life Time Achievement Award from the National Storytelling Network.  She is co-faculty with Terry Tempest Williams’ at University of Utah, consults with ETSU’s CANCER STORIES project, and is spoken word consultant for Foundations, NGOS working in post disaster and conflicts. She recently appeared at the Newark Peace Summit and the Conference on World Peace and Values in Monterrey, Mexico. Her Most recent book is OUR SECRET TERRITORY: The Essence of Storytelling (Sentient Publications, June 2011).  She is completing a new work:  THE SANCTUARY OF A STORY (TBA).  Laura is the mother of best selling author Ishmael Beah.



With each concert production ERC hosts a seminar. This series of seminars at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY), in partnership with the Barry S. Brook Center for Music Research and Documentation, fulfills one of the founding principles of ERC: merging performance and musicological research in order to enrich the musical experience of the listener through a variety of interdisciplinary discussions. Each seminar centers on a discussion of music in relation to an extra-musical context (literature, philosophy, visual arts, cinema, and others) that is pertinent to the parallel ERC theatrical concert. Scholars from a wide range of disciplines are invited to participate in the seminars, offering the audience an opportunity to engage in intriguing, illuminating, and aesthetically revealing perspectives about the subject matter.

The seminars are free to the public and are held one to two weeks before the concerts.

James Melo has written extensively for scholarly journals and music magazines in Brazil, Uruguay, the United States, and Austria, and has been invited to participate as a panel discussant in conferences in Indiana, New York, and Canada. He is the New York correspondent for the magazine Sinfónica in Uruguay, reviewer of music iconography for the journal Music in Art, and senior editor at RILM (Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale) at CUNY. In March 2005, he chaired a session in the conference Music and Intellectual History, organized by the Barry Brook Center for Music Research and Documentation (CUNY), and presented a paper on the history of musicological research in Brazil. He received a grant from the Paul Sacher Stiftung in Basel, Switzerland, where he conducted research on the manuscripts of Anton Webern. Mr. Melo is the program annotator for the recording of the complete piano music of Villa-Lobos and Camargo Guarnieri on Naxos, and the program annotator for the National Philharmonic in Strathmore, MD. He has been the musicologist for the Ensemble for the Romantic Century since 2001, where he is responsible for the musicological and academic backing of all musical and theatrical productions, in addition to writing some of the scripts for ERC’s theatrical concerts.




Our mind is an abyss which delights in depths profound…
We love mystery, under whatever form it comes.
— Honoré de Balzac