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.

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