|Type of post:
|Orchestra news item
|Fri, 9 Feb 2024
The Coventry City of Culture Orchestra’s first concert of 2024 saw Mission Controller, Sebastian Farrall, take us into the realms of space travel and science fiction. Billed as a Fancy Dress Family Concert, both the audience and the orchestra were encouraged to dress for the occasion. Neither disappointed. There were more Lady Penelopes, Jedis and Princess Leias than any conductor could shake his lightsaber at.
Families always feel welcome at the Central Hall concerts, and the area set aside, where children could enjoy the concert without the restriction of formal seating, proved popular. People did mention this aspect of our performances and appreciate the way that youngsters can enjoy the music in a relaxed setting.
The show opened at 3.00 pm, with the ubiquitous Also Sprach Zarathustra; Elvis did not enter the room. Seb swapped his lightsaber for a glowstick, and blast-off followed a mass countdown into the theme from Thunderbirds and fireworks from the balcony. A huge, illuminated globe of planet earth hovered above the orchestra and laser lights sprinkled the ceiling adding to the extra-terrestrial atmosphere.
“Engaging” was one audience member's reaction to the show, they felt they were part of the experience and enjoyed the informality of the event. The audience were not only being treated to a musical voyage of the galaxies, but also to an excursion around the orchestra. Seb introduced them to each planetary section between pieces, explaining their sound and function within the orchestra.
Vocalist Richard White joined the orchestra for an arrangement of Fly me to the Moon before Starship USS Enterprise brought us safely to the kid’s fancy dress parade. The children, now in their element, showed off their costumes while members of the orchestra tried to make themselves invisible behind their music stand, hoping not to be picked to be a judge. Time may stand still for Timelords, but for the rest of us a selection of Dr Who themes ended the first half of the program.
The adults put just as much effort and enthusiasm into the fancy dress aspect of the show as the children. It was humbling to see the effort so many people had put in to this part of the event. The opening bars from E.T (The Extra Terrestrial) were instantly recognised, as the lights dropped for the second part of the show. Members of the audience were then invited to have a go at conducting an orchestra. The Blue Danube Waltz has rarely seen so many changes of tempo. Buzz Lightyear (there were several, one in the sax section) took us to infinity and beyond in an arrangement of You've Got a Friend in Me by saxophonist Colin Charman.
Planet Percussion put on a superb display of both tuned and untuned instruments that bought us to the ‘finale’, a version of David Bowie’s Life on Mars, arranged by clarinettist Morag Clark. They thought it was all over; did anyone believe that? The show finally came down to earth with a medley of Star Wars themes and more fireworks.
Listening to the comments after the show from both friends and strangers makes all this worthwhile. A superb Saturday afternoon’s entertainment.Our thanks extend to sponsors of the event: Small Firms Services Ltd., Candice Harris Photography & The Cottage Inn Fillongley, and also photographer Lucy Duncombe for taking pictures at the event.