Tuning the Concert

Gold Arts Award Portfolio

My first audience member aged 3 August 25, 2010

I had the fantastic opportunity to test-drive my musical storytelling on my 3 ½ year old nephew. The story that I was working on was one of his favourite books, so I hoped it would be appropriate for his age. The day before I had brought my cello out and showed him how it worked and even let him have a go. I first tried playing it to him just after we got back from a long walk and he was playing with his new racing track. However, when I got to introducing the ‘big, bad wolf’ I was told, ‘Alice, can you stop playing your cello now, it too loud’.

I little deflated, I gave it another attempt the following day, asking whether he wanted to hear the story if I didn’t play so loud. I started by putting my mute on, but after a few notes he told me to take it off! Much to my relief he stayed engaged for a full 20 minutes, and even played a part in telling the story.

I sat on the sofa while he sat on the floor with the story book on my music stand, so that it was clearly visible. He alternated from lying on a blanket and listening, to standing up to look at the story book when prompted and even got up really close looking at my cello.

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An Alternative Way: Open air live screening June 9, 2010

Filed under: 1C: Reviews — concerttuning @ 4:54 pm
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Last night I attended a FREE screening of Carmen at Trafalgar Square broadcasted from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. This screening as well as those in cinemas across the country are an example of an alternative way to present classical music.

This was my third year running to attend these events and I took the opportunity to bring friends along. As their website  (http://www.roh.org.uk/whatson/bpbigscreens/index.aspx) says:

“The BP Summer Big Screens are the perfect way to introduce friends and family to the Royal Opera House and to world-class opera and ballet.”

The experience is very different from that of attending an opera in the auditorium. While the screen looked pixellated at times, if sitting at the back of the Opera House, you wouldn’t be able to see these details anyway.

  • Flexibility of length – though the opera is very long you could choose how much you watched. My friend came only for the first half, as she had to go back to revision.
  • You can have a picnic during the performance
  • You are in the open air (for better or worse!). Lends a bit of risk and uncertainly to the event.
  • There is a community feel amongst the audience – especially helped by the mass choir sing-a-long beforehand.
  • Presenter and behind the scenes footage about the Royal Opera House.
  • Informal seating  – you can come in any size party and don’t have to book beforehand.

Gareth Malone, noted the rapture of the audience. It was surprising how entranced everyone sat watching the opera with very few people chatting throughout the opera. Perhaps we have a better attention span than thought or was the audience used to watching opera? There were certainly some good singers amongst us!