Prom 2: Ten Pieces (1)

“Since the Ten Pieces film launched last October, children in schools across the UK have been working on their own creative responses to music by Beethoven, Britten, Mozart, Mussorgsky and others, with the help of BBC ensembles. Some of the results now come to the Royal Albert Hall, where they will be performed alongside extracts from the Ten Pieces that inspired them. These two Proms are a musical celebration showcasing digital art, dance and new composition, bringing the first year of the BBC’s Ten Pieces project to a triumphant close. Barney Harwood and Dick and Dom join in the fun.” [BBC Proms website]

Barney Harwood, Dick and Dom, Molly Rainford, Dan Starkey (presenters)

Tim Thorpe (horn)

Ten Pieces Children’s Choir

Members of the BBC Singers

Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance – Connect It Ensemble

BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Thomas Søndergård

Including performances by:
Chase Bridge Primary School, Twickenham
St Joseph’s College, Ipswich
St Mary’s Primary School, Maguiresbridge, County Fermanagh
Withycombe Raleigh CE Primary School, Exmouth

Reviewed by: Amanda-Jane Doran

Reviewed: 18 July, 2015
Venue: Royal Albert Hall, London

The Ten Pieces Children’s Choir in action at the first ever Ten Pieces Prom at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday 18 July. This Prom was repeated  this morning (Sunday 19 July at 11am)Photograph: Guy LevyThe BBC’s Ten Pieces initiative to introduce Britain’s primary-school children to the wonders of classical music culminated in this moving Proms showcase. The children’s performances even overshadowed the marvellous playing of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales under the unflappable Thomas Søndergård, invaded by trolls, witches and firebirds, as well as BBC TV children’s presenters to entertain and terrify – pantomime-style.

My juvenile companion was most impressed by ‘Mars’ from The Planets Suite by Gustav Holst. The drama of the music was enhanced by graphics and images of space shown on screens around the auditorium. Throughout the concert short films of music-making, animation and CGI “added a layer of atmosphere” to the music, according to my teenage critic. The highlight of the first half was Equinox, written by schoolgirl Eivhlinn Lisa Fee from County Fermanagh, inspired by the Ten Pieces project. She and two friends played the piece on violins, supported by strings and harp. It brought the house down and Barney Harwood’s interview with Eivhlinn and her mates communicated the impact of this music-making on their lives.

Between the sparkling renditions of Beethoven (first movement of Symphony 5), Britten (‘Storm Interlude’ from Peter Grimes) and John Adams (Short Ride in a Fast Machine) there were dance performances and videos from schools where pupils had been inspired to create art, animation and movement in response to the Ten Pieces. Adults may have found the raspberry jokes and fizzing graphics distracting, but the children in the Hall were enthralled throughout. Anna Meredith’s Connect It improvisation (the London premiere of a BBC commission) had the audience on its feet clapping and shouting, making body-music together.

Students and alumni from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance perform Anna Meredith's Connect It at the first ever Ten Pieces Prom at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday 18 July. This Prom was repeated  this morning (Sunday 19 July at 11am)Photograph: Guy LevyAfter classics excerpted from Grieg (for Peer Gynt), Mozart (Finale of Horn Concerto K495), Mussorgsky (Night on Bare Mountain), Handel (Zadok the Priest) and Stravinsky (Firebird) the evening was brought to a close with a Stomp-style rendition from the Withycombe Raleigh CE Primary School. On percussion, and with rhythm, polish and dash, the children produced the something extraordinary, not least commitment and concentration.

The BBC must be congratulated for this innovative and inspiring mission to take classical music into every school and into the life and heart of every child in this country. It was one of the most exciting and uplifting musical experiences of my rather older life, too.

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