After hearing their family concert at the BBC Proms, I looked up the Aurora Orchestra and read about their Yankee Doodle Concert. I immediately booked tickets as I thought it looked fun, but I realised that once I got to the concert on 9 October I didn’t know which pieces they were playing. This highlights how that managed to market the concert beyond the composers and piece titles.
I thought the concert was fantastic, it received good applause from the audience and it was a different type of concert experience – one firmly in the C21st.
Notably in the audience there were several children. However the ages of the audience ranged from the white haired to young professionals. I heard my neighbours whispering a little throughout the concert and I remember the young girl of around 10 years saying ‘How do you know when it has finished’. Though the concert experience had been made approachable through the film, there was still enough to puzzle a 10 year old about the format of the concert.
The concert featured music around an American theme and several of the pieces had accompanying film footage. I particularly enjoyed the Carnival of the Animals with the variety of the different animations from the students from Central St Martins. They were frequently comical and refreshingly got the audience laughing. Obviously the sketch of Tom and Jerry was also a highlight of the evening. Amusing the pianist representing Tom had a cat tail poking out of his black tie and he comically mimicked the cat’s expressions.
Another particularly appealing element of the concert was the fact that the conductor introduced the pieces. He added a personal touch by remarking on his favourite moments or explained what the music reminded him of. Brazenly, he encouraged the audience to support the orchestra in the uncertain financial climate by either joining the mailing list, attending concerts or joining as a Friend. I also liked the fact that audience members were able to bring drinks into the auditorium, which helped enhance the relaxed atmosphere of the evening.
I realise that this type of concert may not suit everybody. There are likely to be those who say that the film is distracting. However, I find that my mind frequently wanders during concerts, but the film helped keep me engaged and if anything made me stay in the moment of the music. This was particularly noticeable in the Fossils movement of the Carnival of the Animals, as the patterns on the screen reinforced the musical patterns. Furthermore, while I had previously played Gershwin’s American in Paris, I had not realised that the significance of some of the musical motifs. Being able to see them with the film footage brought the music even more so to life. Another enduring observation was the fact that the musicians paid notable interest to the screening with the cellist often turning round and smiling while he watched.