Friday, March 27, 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Life after Peter & the Wolf

We have all arrived back in the office after a crazy day in Stratford! I've uploaded a couple of photos here that I took on my mobile which aren't great quality but we should have some professional ones through very soon.

The day started with a rather chaotic rehearsal. The tubes really weren't working in our favour, with the Central Line out and major distruption on other lines so many people arrived quite late. Not really what we needed when the venue was pretty difficult to spot anyway - it's so easy to walk past as it just looks boarded up. Despite these set backs, we did get the rehearsal running and the sound was really great in the Rex, although slightly hampered by two huge piles of speakers at each side of the stage! Tea, coffee and biscuits certainly helped keep everyone going and Michelle Collins did a really excellent first run through of narrating Peter & the Wolf with the orchestra.

From 1.45pm the children started arriving for the afternoon show - the atmosphere in the hall was brilliant and filled with excited chatter and various clangings from chime bars and drums as some students rehearsed their performances amongst themselves. At 2.30pm we were ready to start and Ron introduced Baden who has been leading the workshops in the four schools we ran workshops in from across East London. We were then treated to an excellent hour of 8 performances by the schools classes, each of which had taken their own take on the characters that feature in Peter & the Wolf. We had hunters with shopping trolleys and pies, a grandfather rap, a chilled out cat and a beautiful picture of an Enchanted Forest created through music amongst other things. We had a team on hand to record the whole thing and so each child will receive a DVD of all the pieces created. Following their performances, the orchestra took to the stage to perform Peter & the Wolf to the audience, a piece we hope could now be grasped with a whole new meaning, after really working on the characters in school sessions. The children's concert finished at 4pm but there will still plenty of children around, getting autographs and to chatting to Michelle Collins.
After we'd recovered from the afternoon we were straight down to sorting out the evening show. We'd given away lots of tickets to employees at Newham Council and Tate & Lyle and so we needed to prompt the Box Office staff and make sure the ushers knew to collect the stubs from the tickets for the all important draw for the chance to win tickets on the Eurostar, kindly offered by our sponsors. Reserved seating signs went out for the stars of the show - St Agnes Year 6 class who performed in the evening concert, and lots of audience surveys and free programmes so everyone watching could learn more about the pieces we were performing and about the Orchestra's work.

Doors opened at 7pm and the Rex quickly filled up. The concert started only slightly behind schedule, simply to make sure all the people pouring in the doors could grab a seat before we began! Ron introduced all the pieces from the stage with facts and context and the orchestra performed really well (despite the stage being a tad cold, sorry guys!!). Michelle Collins' narration was just perfect for Peter & the Wolf and she was really warmly received by the audience and the children who continued to flock for autographs in the interval. As per the New London Orchestra tradition, we included some lesser known music in the programme including Martinu and also a premiere of a Phillip Godfrey piece - Dance No.3. The piece was fantastic and just so fitting for the concert, and our surveys have revealed that it was one of the most popular pieces of the whole evening's concert, so well done Phillip, who also attended the show!
We think yesterday was a real success and hope that we've created the start of a classical music audience in East London. There's certainly plenty of work to be done still - we're collecting lots of feedback and want to hear all opinions so that we can get our whole concert series appealing to a range of people. If you were in the audience and haven't yet taken the survey - please click here.
Life seems very dull without Peter & the Wolf to concentrate on now, but I'm sure things will start to liven up as we approach our next performance in East London - Carnival of the Animals on 14th May.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

How do we get young audiences to classical concerts?

Last night I went to a Young People in the Arts event at the Festival Hall - a London Philharmonic Orchestra concert, with a talk before with Tim Walker (the Chief Executive of the LPO) and their soloist for the evening Daniel Mueller-Schott. The topic of debate centred around how to get young people to come to classical concerts. One question raised was the price of tickets - was it putting young people off coming to concerts? Tim Walker stated that some tickets for LPO concerts are now cheaper than going to the cinema, so surely not! Plus, the point was raised, young people pay huge sums for pop concert tickets, so the issue is certainly not that young people can't afford classical concerts. I think it's fairly clear cost has very little to do with it, the question is much more about content and presentation and how comfortable young people feel about coming to a concert, without feeling out of place or mystified by the whole experience.
A really interesting point Tim Walker did raise was an example of a European orchestra who had asked a group of under 26s why they didn't attend concerts. The overwhelming feedback was that they didn't want to be seen to be doing the same thing as their parents! As a result, the orchestra put on the same performance of a concert at 11pm for under 26s only, and the place was full. Do you think this is the case in England too? Does classical music have an 'old people' label on it you don't want to be associated with?
Another issue raised was where orchestras performed. Tim Walker argued concert halls were the only way forward - something I disagree with. When challenged, he could only come up with "well we can't perform outside, the sound wouldn't carry." As if outdoor venues are the only alternative option?! The New London Orchestra is going to be performing at a nightclub for Peter & the Wolf, it's still got a roof (!), a box office and a decent size stage and can seat 1,000 people. The point is that it's in an area that doesn't have a lot of concert halls but that doesn't mean we shouldn't go there.

Talking of Peter & the Wolf, we're getting loads of responses to our ticket offers that went out to Newham's biggest employers - Tate & Lyle and Newham Council. Great to know there is an audience in East London for this type of event and thanks to those who've put a little comment about why they'd like to come, it's really interesting to know.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Peter & the Wolf - free tickets!

We're so excited about Peter & the Wolf we want everyone to be there, so we're giving away 10 free tickets to every primary school around Stratford. Vanessa has been busy getting leaflets around to all the schools today, so if you've seen a leaflet and want to claim your ticket, or even if you haven't got hold of a leaflet yet, give us a call at the office 020 7823 5523 and we'll be able to send you a ticket.

Don't miss your chance to be there, we've been rehearsing with Michelle Collins today so it's all coming together!

Young Performers Concert Series

Yesterday was the first recital of the 2009 Young Performers Concert Series! It was a wonderful concert - massive thanks to the superb performers Pau Codina, Rosie Richardson and Matthijs Broersma as well as the staff at the Foundling Museum and the Musicians Benevolent Fund for making the whole series possible!

See you next time - 2 April, 1.00pm!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Peter & the Wolf - schools sessions 2

Another fantastic session today at Meridian School as part of our Peter & the Wolf Project...
Check out these photos of our musician Jake in action leading the clapping rhythm games and the Year 3 class as they begin the first run through of their piece of music based on the Cat and the Bird.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Music & Literacy - Stewart Headlam - First Visit

The New London Orchestra is committed to making their workshops in schools related to the curriculum, and one of our main focuses has been Literacy, and how working with music, we can improve literacy skills. The New London Orchestra ran a Music & Literacy project with Year 3s in schools in Hammersmith a few years back which was really successful and we wanted to build on that. As a result, some of our musicians worked on the outline for a project for Year 6s after they'd finished their SATs exams, as this was identified as a year group at a time in school with not much focus. The project we created was all about 'moving on' - as the students started to think about moving to new schools, and reflecting on their time at their primary school and the memories they have. We have funding in place to run this at two schools, and Stewart Headlam Primary School will be the first to experience it!

Lucy and Vicky went today to check out Stewart Headlam, and got to meet the Year 6 teachers there, Martin McCarthy and Haleema Rouf. We chatted about the Year 6s that will take part, who apparently are really creative and have a singing star of the future among them, which we're excited to hear about! We heard about the story telling the students have been focusing on, and the Māori story they will be telling with puppets they had made. It all sounds like great starting ideas for something the classes can create when our musicians come in at the end of June, as well as creating songs and pieces of music depicting their time at school. We also talked about making a video recording of the sessions and interviewing each student with some questions they had come up with themselves about their time at school, which could be put together with a video of the final performance and make a memento of their time at Stewart Headlam. We'll be heading back at the beginning of June to do a final planning meeting, so keep your eyes peeled for blogs about this project later in the year.

Something else we notice at a lot of schools we visit is the huge cupboards of instruments they have, and how little they seem to be used! So many teachers say to us "I'm not musical enough" or "someone from another organisation comes in to do our music teaching." Have you read this article: about Ofsted's opinion of music teaching? Do you think it's okay to stop having music lessons in the lead up to exam time? Do we only do music lessons to identify the musicians of the future, or should we be teaching listening skills too? Do teachers need to be taught how to use music in the classroom, or should we just leave it to 'experts' from outside?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Peter & the Wolf - schools sessions 1

Hello followers!

Vanessa and Vicky have been busy today, attending the first sessions with two of the schools participating in the Orchestra's Peter & the Wolf project - Parkwood School in Hackney and St Agnes in Tower Hamlets.

The sessions were led by Baden, a fabulous writer, poet and performer who got the children thinking about the characters in the story of Peter & the Wolf. What is the wolf really like? How does Peter walk? Can we think of good words to describe the duck?

The students were also introduced to a few of the instruments from the orchestra, including the clarinet (Karl), the bassoon (Claire) and plenty of weird and wonderful percussion from Orphy's box of wonders! After everyone had asked questions about the instruments, and worked out why Claire's bassoon wouldn't work (!) we got everyone chatting about particular characters - building up new personalities. We had some great ideas contributed - so we'll have to wait and see if the hunters will capture the wolf with a shopping trolley and a handbag, or if the wolf turns out to be a vegetarian!

On a small side note, Vanessa showed me this yesterday - , what a brilliant version of the themes from Peter and the Wolf! Have you got any others to share? Or maybe even your own?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Peter & the Wolf - Promo Video

Our first big concert in East London - we're coming to the Stratford Rex. Unusual choice?! We think so! Tell us what you think.

What is an Orchestra?

What do you think of when you think of an orchestra? Who are the New London Orchestra and what are we all about?

Young Performers Concert Series - 5 March

Thursday 5 March, 1pm
Foundling Museum
Pau Codina - Cello
Sonata in G Major, G.5                                     BOCCHERINI
                      Allegro Militare
                      Tempo di Minuetto
Variations Concertantes in D Major, Op.17           MENDELSSOHN
Drei Kleine Stüke, Op.11                                   WEBERN
                      Massige Achtel
                      Sehr bewegt
                      Ausserst ruhig
Sonata in D minor                                            DEBUSSY
                     Prologue: Lent
                     Serenade: Moderement anime
                     Finale: Anime

Young Performers Concert Series