The cheese-loving inventor has written a concerto for the Proms – without any help from his dog
Without being rude... your creations have a reputation for not always working as planned (1). How can you be sure your Concerto (2) will not end in tears?
Don't worry – me and Gromit will be backstage to keep an eye on things in person. What could possibly go wrong?
A concerto normally specifies which instrument(s) it has been written for. My Concerto in Ee, Lad does not do that. Is this a deliberate attempt to redefine musical form?
I just couldn't decide what to write it for – spoons, paper and comb, kazoo … So in the end I thought I'd just write it for all of them. With the odd cow bell thrown in for good measure.
Is Gromit pissed off you didn't ask him to collaborate with you?
I suspect an element of professional jealousy may have crept in; I have a feeling Gromit has a hankering to be a composer himself. And you'll find a bar of soap on the way out to wash your mouth out with …
Is he working on his own composition? Peter and the Beagle?
A dog writing music? Don't be ridiculous! I have to show him me old 78s to remind him: "See Gromit? It says on the record 'His Master's Voice' – all the dog does is listen."
My dog, Herbie, reckons Gromit is the brains of the relationship. Is he right?
Ho ho dear! These pooches do like to stick together, don't they? Dogged devotion, you could call it.
Who are your musical influences?
Edward Elgar (3) was always a major inspiration – all the Pomp, but in slightly reduced Circumstances, you might say. And then there's Tchaikovsky – he thought he was the bee's knees using live cannon (4), but just wait 'til you see what pyrotechnics we've got in store. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my pals at BAE Systems for providing the firepower.
Gromit never says anything on film. But can he Bach?
He certainly can. And he's also been known to Woof-gang Amadeus Mozart.
Apart from the dogs in Janacek's Cunning Little Vixen and Helena's I am Your Spaniel aria in Benjamin Britten's A Midsummer Night Dream, there aren't many roles for hounds in opera.
Absolutely. Which is why I've been working on a dog-themed opera myself. Trouble is, I can't decide on a title – maybe Il Pugliacci. Or Dog Giovanni. Or The Barker of Seville … (5)
Does listening to the Agnus Dei (6) in Verdi's Requiem make Shaun the Sheep bigheaded?
His favourite classical ditty is Handel's All We Like Sheep (7). And when it comes to Shaun, we certainly do!
Inventors are often portrayed in classical music as being a bit mad. Do you find that offensive?
Not especially. Inventing is only one string to my bow. I'm also a first-rate composer, baker (8), window-cleaner (9), and I wouldn't mind turning my hand to journalism one of these days too. Judging by present company, it can't be that difficult …
I'm sorry. I was the only writer available. How come it's taken so long for someone of your musical genius to be recognised by the Proms?
You'd have to ask Sir Albert Hall himself about that. I've been writing to him for years saying I'm up for a bit of concerto-ing. It's just taken them a while to realise my true potential.
Since Gromit has four paws, could he play Poulenc's Concerto for Two Pianos by himself?
I bet you he could. And he could use his tail to turn the pages, to boot!
Were you tempted to dedicate the concerto to Wendolene Ramsbottom (10) or Lady Tottington? (11)
I couldn't possibly dedicate it to one dear lady without upsetting all the others. It's a curse we romantic geniuses have to live with. So to avoid offence, I've dedicated it to a man's best friend. Cheese.
Do you get upset if people say you have feet of clay?
Better feet of clay than a potty mouth, as my old nan used to say.
Are you going to hang on to the copyright of this concerto so Nick Park doesn't continue to cash in on your talent?
Talented chap, that young Nick. And don't you worry, we've come to a mutually beneficial financial arrangement for our collaborations. I just pay him in plasticine.
The Wallace and Gromit Prom: Musical Marvels! is at the Royal Albert Hall, London SW7 on Sunday 29 July. www.bbc.co.uk/proms/
(1) See Wallace and Gromit films, passim. Back to article
(2) Premieres at the Proms on 29 July. Back to article
(3) English composer (1857-1934) whose compositions include the Pomp and Circumstance Marches. Back to article
(4) His 1812 overture includes live cannon fire. Back to article
(5) Bad puns. Do we need to say more? Back to article
(6) 'Lamb of god'. In Christian liturgy it refers to Christ. Back to article
(7) The aria, from Messiah, is actually All we, like sheep, have gone astray. It's a quotation from Isaiah. The commas are crucial. Back to article
(8) A Matter of Loaf and Death. Back to article
(9) A Close Shave. Back to article
(10) With whom Wallace had a tender romance – cut short when he realised she was allergic to cheese. Back to article
(11) Another conquest, Campanula is the seventh Baroness of Tottington. Voiced by Helena Bonham-Carter. Back to article
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