Blog Archives

One Of My Insomniac Moments

Author Interview
Joanne Grodzinski Author Interview

Maestro Orpheus and the World Clock follows a young boy visiting his grandfather who ends up on an adventure with a mysterious man to fix time. What was the inspiration for the original and fascinating idea at the center of the book?

I owned and operated a small independent classical record shop in Guelph, Ontario, Canada for 17 years, and, for most of that time, Robert worked for (and with me) as my ‘right-hand’ man. We were constantly being asked for recordings that would introduce classical music to children. And, after Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf and Saint Saens’ Carnival of the Animals, the cupboard is pretty bare. One night, while trying to fall asleep and in one of my insomniac moments, Haydn’s Clock Symphony was playing on my bedside radio. The idea of a little boy listening to the ticking of a clock – visiting his grandfather – and not happy about it, came to me. The next morning, in wild discussions with Robert that day and many more over the next year, the gem of that idea eventually became the story of Maestro Orpheus and Fred.

What was the collaboration process like to turn this fascinating story into an amazing audiobook version with all the musical accompaniments?

It was a 3 to 4-year process (at least), if memory serves me right. We wanted to produce a music recording on CD or cassette tape. This was in the late 1990’s – before iPhones and the computer technology of today. When we mapped out the entire process, we first had to write the script – although we collaborated on all of the ideas in the story, and which musical selections should go where, Robert, who is exceptionally talented, was the actual writer of the story. I took the lead as producer. That meant hiring an orchestra to record the 15 selections (all thematically linked to the storyline of dreams, night, and clocks). We had connections to a music producer who had connections to the English Chamber Orchestra and he also introduced the project to the narrator, R.H. Thomson, a well-known Canadian actor. The other actors were friends who were then Professors in the English and Drama Department of the local university. We hired a child actor to play Fred and then used the services of a sound recording company – for many, many hours and days to put it all together with sound effects – so, the actual production from start to finish was months, if not years, of work.

And, more importantly, we needed the funds to make all of this happen. This was the time before the age of ‘Go Fund Me’, so, we appealed to friends and family, formed a company and sold shares to our ‘investors’. And, unbelievably, as I look back on it now, it somehow all came together. The recording was well received and we sold several thousand copies of it when it first came out in 1997 (though never enough to be financially sustainable). It was also nominated for a prestigious Juno Award in the Children’s Music category (the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy). Unfortunately, although marketing the recording locally was quite successful, marketing to a broader audience was challenging and too expensive for our already over-extended budget. This was before the time of social media and, before the world changed somewhat. Once the recording industry was disrupted by technology and the consumer was able to download music for free from the internet, the record business changed drastically. That, and other things in our lives that took precedence, Orpheus was put on the back burner for 20 years or so.

More recently, I have developed a personal love of audiobooks (my family calls it an addiction) and it occurred to me that the story with music of Maestro Orpheus (already broken into 15 chapters) was the perfect fit for the audiobook format. Last winter I connected with an audio production company that easily formatted the CD into an audiobook and it is now distributed to over 40 audiobook platforms around the world. There is an adapted e-book available on Amazon Kindle.

What were some educational aspects that were important for you to include in this children’s book?

As a former elementary school teacher, I easily saw the educational opportunities that the story afforded. We did 2 things: we created a live orchestra version (for Children’s Orchestra Concerts – another labour of love for which we developed a live version of the story (with 2 actors) and live orchestra. We were told that Symphony Orchestras were dying for this kind of children’s programming – actually, they were just dying, though we did manage to have it performed twice!

I also created a Classroom Teacher’s Guide (in collaboration with a highly qualified Music Resource Teacher at the local school board) – although it is a bit dated, it is now available as a free PDF download from our website (

But, our main motivation has always been to just tell a good story. And, in that, we feel we succeeded quite well.

Is this the first book in the series? If so, when is the next book coming out and what can your fans expect in the next story?

We did start thinking and talking about a second story – of a little girl and her grandmother, but, that is still tbd. However, Robert has published a second children’s e-book (In Place of Wishes) available on Amazon Kindle. Unfortunately, there is not an audio version of that enchanting story.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

In this dream-like tale, Fred is visiting his grandfather when time suddenly stops. Setting out to discover why, Fred meets Maestro Orpheus and his magical lyre. Together they begin a musical adventure along The Corridor of Time, on their way to wind The World Clock.
Drawing on a broad range of classical music, by composers from Bach and Haydn to Chopin and Strauss, Maestro Orpheus and The World Clock explores the intimate relationship between time, memory and music, in a way that is intended to delight and fill with wonder.

Maestro Orpheus and The World Clock

Ten-year-old Fred is visiting his grandfather, who loves to repair old clocks. But Fred would rather be anywhere else in the world, as the constant ticking of his grandfather’s many clocks prevents him from sleeping! But as the clocks strike midnight, a strange adventure begins for Fred, as he encounters the elderly Maestro Orpheus, Winder of the World Clock. Entering a vast otherworldly dimension, Fred discovers the importance of time as he explores the stories of those who came before. Together with Maestro Orpheus and the singing Lyre, Fred must face his fears as they work together to protect time for everyone.

The audiobook Maestro Orpheus and the World Clock is created by Robert Pennee and Joanne Grodzinski. This gentle adventure story strikes the perfect balance of whimsy and reality. The audiobook version enhances the story and is simply splendid, with beautifully performed classical music, engaging sound effects, and wonderful voice acting, adding even more magic to this fantastic tale.

I love good stories about time travel, and I love music, so this adventure was a perfect one-stop-shop of wonder. The storytelling is well-paced, and although a few slightly serious themes are encountered, they are handled expertly, making them appropriate for children. I also loved that the importance of music was a keystone of the book, with stories of famous composers woven throughout the narrative. In addition, the kind yet mysterious Maestro Orpheus, the inquisitive Fred, and the magical Lyre all add their own special element to the story. I simply can’t speak highly enough of this magical tale.

At just over an hour long, Maestro Orpheus and the World Clock is suitable for all ages and a perfect fit for storytime together on a chilly winter’s eve. This is an incredible story with excellent narration, acting, and lovely musical accompaniment. This whimsical tale of music, magic and the importance of time is a classic sure to find a permanent place in your heart.

Listening Length 1 hour and 4 Min | ASIN : B09XWVW9XM

Buy Now From Amazon
%d bloggers like this: