Earlier this week the oldest two and I headed to a schools performance at the Bridgewater Hall. This was organised by another home educator and it was a really good opportunity to see the Halle Orchestra play.
I’ve only been to the Bridgewater Hall once before, and that was for my graduation some years ago so it was nice to go again and, this time, get to listen to the orchestra there.
I think the Halle do an annual programme for schools, and this year the theme was Back to Nature. I wasn’t too sure what to expect but I have to say it was simply superb. We found our seats and we could see the seating for the orchestra set up. I pointed out some of the instruments we could see to the children, and shortly before the event started, the musicians came out to take their seats, and warm up. We were then introduced to the conductor and the layout of the orchestra was explained, ie: where the strings, woodwind, brass and percussion sections were. We then heard a bit about the theme, and how it linked to the orchestra. I hadn’t really thought of this beforehand but we were told all about the origins of the instruments, how they would have been made originally, and how they’re all natural products (or certainly would have been historically).
We then moved into the first piece of music, Finlandia by Sibelius. This was a lovely and enchanting piece of music, and from the moment it started, D was absolutely transfixed. The music continued, each one introduced and explained and the children asked to listen out for certain instruments.
The second piece was my least favourite, it was The Anthology of Fantastic Zoology: A Bao A Qu by Mason Bates. It tells the story of a mythical creature that lives at the bottom of the staircase and it just didn’t do it for me if I’m honest. This was then followed by a local school group playing their own interpretation of the story which was really well done.
The pieces that I enjoyed most were Out of Africa by John Barry which was wonderfully accompanied by a video showing a herd of elephants crossing a river between Botswana and Namibia. It was breathtaking and I found the music very moving and it had both D and E mesmerised. It’s a piece I think I’ll listen to again soon.
I also really enjoyed Vltava by Smetana which depicts a river and the solo of the Lark Ascending (Vaughn Williams) by the young Royal Northern College of Music Student was exceptional. I think D found this one particularly wonderful as he has mentioned it to me a few times since.
The event lasted just over an hour and D was absolutely transfixed the entire time. E got a little restless which I suspect was more to do with the later night to bed the evening before but she enjoyed parts of it and they’ve both asked to hear some of the music again.
I found it to be a truly wonderful experience. I find myself listening to more and more classical music these days, and I really ought to dig out the classical CD’s that are in the loft. The power of the music was just fantastic and it’s incredible to think that none of it is amplified. If you ever get the chance to visit the Bridgewater (which I understand is almost acoustically perfect) then you really should go; it was a wonderful experience and one I am thankful I was able to share with D and E and I hope we manage to visit again next year on the school’s programme.
We followed the concert up by taking a look at The Walkabout Orchestra which is a great introduction to the orchestra and was the perfect way for us to follow up. It is a search and find style book that takes you on a tour around the world as you hunt for different members of the orchestra. It was a nice way to remember the instruments we had seen at the Halle performance as well as refresh ourselves on where the different parts of the orchestra sit.
I hope to visit the Halle again at some point in the future as it really was the most wonderful way to spend the morning and I found it a very powerful experience, and I hope it is one that the children will rememer for some time.