Audience participation, top notch playing from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and silliness from hosts Owen and Olly are all regular fixtures at a Children’s Classic Concert. This one was no exception, but something in the mix gave Britten & Beyond an extra edge.
Children’s Classic Concerts: Britten & Beyond - Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Rating: * * * *
Part of this was down to frivolity – musicians in party hats, balloons hanging from the walls, a mass pass the parcel and a rhythmic dance routine that more than a thousand people happily joined in with. But at the heart of this concert lay a musical education that left the audience with more than they came in with.
Celebrating the 100th anniversary of Benjamin Britten’s birth, the event was billed more as a party than a concert. For a party you need guests, and Owen and Olly had invited Mozart, Shostakovich, Rossini and Arthur Benjamin – all musical influences of Britten.
Mozart’s overture from the Marriage of Figaro stood proudly in its brilliance, without need of embellishment. Elsewhere, our hosts had fun dressing up in lederhosen for Britten’s Soirées Musicales: Tirolese, and wearing garlands and sunglasses for Arthur Benjamin’s Jamaican Rumba while the audience hula danced. The superb RSNO Junior Chorus also showed the young audience how good it is to be part of the musical action.
But it was the birthday boy himself who provided the highlight. More than 50 years after he wrote it, Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra still works as a fascinating introduction to the shapes and sounds of the orchestral sections.