We’re extremely fortunate to be funded by Arts Council England, the Sigrid Rausing Trust, The Overstone Fund, Kent Music Hub and Dynamics Music Hub in Medway. This funding means that we are able to heavily subsidize the cost of tickets and so make live classical music much more accessible to children who wouldn’t normally have the chance to attend an orchestral concert. It also means that we can directly help the schools fulfill virtually all aspects of the National Curriculum for Music: in particular ‘listen with concentration and understanding to a range of high-quality live and recorded music’
I’ve highlighted high-quality because all our musicians are professional and are freelancing in many of the UK’s most prestigious orchestras such as the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia, London Sinfonietta and RPO Glyndebourne to name but a few. You might think working with musicians of this caliber that our concerts might be stuffy, but they are far from this. In fact we go out of our way to smash to bits that reputation that bestows classical music. If you’ve been to any of our Carnival concerts you’ll know what I mean – Steve, our conductor, dancing around to the Can-Can, George and Adel pretending to be roaring lions, Alex cheekily butting-in with his “I like Birds” and Harry Potter music totally egged on by hundreds of school children who just love his naughtiness!
This tour also included some amazing animation, which played as the music was performed. Describing each animal and what Saint-Saens was portraying in the music it was funny, well timed, colorful and moving. Above all, it appealed every age group – even the secondary pupils. Of course for them it was sold as a guilty pleasure but we hoped they might be inspired to dabble with their own creative projects putting cartoons to music. Here’s a sneaky peek of The Fossils to give you an idea of what I’m talking about. The Tortoises danced the Can-Can, the elephant was doing ballet, the hens and roosters cock-a-doodle-doo’d, the lion roared and the swan glided elegantly across the water as the sun went down. All the time stimulating the children’s imaginations and adding to the whole live experience.
But why take a load of kids to an orchestral concert? Is that what you’re thinking? What’s the benefit?
Because we receive funding we are obliged to evaluate our tour. We commissioned The Audience Agency to conduct a survey of all the schools that attended our concerts and here are some of the key findings:
The main motivator to attend was to expose children to classical music, through a live performance with a real orchestra.
We’ll remember lots of things from this tour – here’s a few:
Touring is not all glamour. The early starts, unloading and loading heavy gear in the rain, packing up and dashing home to teach are all exhausting. But we wouldn’t have it any other way: we have the best job in the world inspiring tomorrows audiences and musicians.
If any of this has struck a chord please do get in touch. We are constantly seeking funding for future projects and we are currently advertising for directors to join our board as well as patrons and ambassadors.