Prom 13: CBeebies [2/2]

“Following on from the sell-out success of last year’s Doctor Who Prom and 2011’s Horrible Histories Prom, this year parents are invited to join their children for the first ever CBeebies Prom. Take a journey through London with some of your favourite CBeebies characters and explore the sounds of the orchestra, as well as the everyday sounds around us. This morning’s adventure combines live music from the BBC Philharmonic and video action on screens around the hall. The next generation of classical music fans starts here.” [BBC Proms website]

Katy Ashworth (from ‘I Can Cook’)
Bernard Cribbins (from ‘Old Jack’s Boat’)
Andy Day (from ‘Andy’s Wild Adventures’)
Salty the Dog (from ‘Old Jack’s Boat’)
Ben Faulks (Mr Bloom)
Gemma Hunt (from ‘Swashbuckle’)
Chris Jarvis (from ‘Show Me, Show Me’)
Steven Kynman (Robert the Robot)
Cat Sandion (CBeebies)

BBC Philharmonic
Stephen Bell

Reviewed by: Mike (grandfather) & five-year-old Evie Langhorne

Reviewed: 27 July, 2014
Venue: Royal Albert Hall, London

Evie Langhorne, and mum Vicky, at BBC Proms on 27 July 2014Giant furry creatures greeted us outside the Royal Albert Hall as we arrived for the second CBeebies Prom. Inside, TV screens were festooned around the auditorium and CBeebies imagery mixed with the members of the BBC Phil – gaily dressed in different coloured T-shirts to denote which section they play in – blue for strings, red for brass… To kick-off the morning this brightly clad ensemble played a medley by Barrie Bignold of CBeebies signature-tunes.

The idea of this hour-long adventure was to introduce the orchestra and combine it with everyday noises. So Robert the Robot was sent via the big screens to various parts of London to find interesting sounds that could be used for the grand finale of the concert. Prommers were invited to join in – costermongers shouting their wares, marching soldiers, the familiar warning of “Mind the Doors!”… Interspersed was a cross-section of well-known CBeebies characters, who, heavily amplified, introduced the sections of the orchestra: the percussion with the chimes of midnight – Prokofiev’s Cinderella came in useful here – and the brass was invited to imitate dinosaur noises – who knows how authentically! The woodwinds played the ‘Hornpipe’ from Henry Wood’s Sea Songs – a clap-a-long was encouraged, which most children enjoyed – and the strings gave us ‘The Dargason’ from Holst’s St Paul’s Suite, which alas disappeared without trace under the chatter and general inattention. The full orchestra played Miklós Rózsa’s ‘March of the Charioteers’ from his score for the film of Ben-Hur. This through its very loudness made an impact.

Gemma Hunt (Swashbuckle) at the first ever CBeebies Prom. Photograph: BBC/Chris ChristodoulouThe veteran actor Bernard Cribbins came on to read a story in his TV role as Jack the Sailor, accompanied by Salty the Dog – the very first live animal to appear at the Proms, apparently. Salty behaved impeccably despite the din. Bernard we’re not so sure about. The experience of a lively audience of several thousand must have been quite different to the peace of a TV studio – still with the help of his microphone he cut through the hubbub and his tale was warmly appreciated.

For the finale the audience was divided into various parts each led by a cheerful CBeebies presenter and we were invited to roar out the various sounds Robert the Robot had discovered in unison whilst the BBC Philharmonic provided an accompaniment. Not surprisingly the result was sonic chaos though wildly enjoyable.

The idea of these two Prom concerts, no doubt, is to catch the younger generation early and give them a taste for proper concerts. The recommended age group for this Prom was two to six years plus accompanying parents and/or grandparents. Evie (top photo) could understand the goings on reasonably well and enjoyed the occasion, but many of the even-younger members of the audience (and there were some really little ones) found their attention-span sorely stretched. On the whole the concept was a success. The programme-book was well attuned to younger clients with plenty to amuse them during and after the event.

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