As I write this post I am sitting in the passenger seat of my car listening to Hall of the Mountain King by Grieg. The car is in complete silence as the Beans have fallen asleep but I can still hear the music playing in my head. This afternoon our little family enjoyed a completely new experience together, we went to our first Orchestra production at The Royal Albert Hall.
The Royal Albert Hall
In 1871 The Royal Albert Hall opened its doors for the first time and is now one of the oldest concert halls in the country. It was the idea of Prince Albert who was married to Queen Victoria, he wanted a Hall where people could go to enjoy music, to explore and to learn. Today, The Royal Albert Hall puts on over 380 shows a year on its main stage – more than one show per day of the year.
What is the Great Orchestral Adventure?
As the lights go down you hear the voices of Tim Redmond, the Conductor talking to his brother Tom Redmond, the Chief Adventurer. In a few moments, they bound onto the stage to rapturous applause and the adventure begins. Tim has lost his magical baton so with Tom at the helm the audience, Tim, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the London Youth Choir go on a Great Orchestral Adventure to find it. Jelly Bean declared “look Mummy, beautiful pink dust” which made me giggle as he was talking about the lighting beams shining down onto the stage.
Decision time . . .
To make decisions on where to look for the baton, the audience are given a double-sided piece of card coloured red on one side and green on the other. Tom gives us two options and he goes with the majority colour vote to take us on our adventure.
Confronting the Troll
We began by sending Tom into the Troll’s cave whilst the Orchestra played Hall of the Mountain King. Tom explained how the different sections of music echoed the Trolls big thundering footsteps, his own tiny footsteps, the Troll lunging out to grab him and Tom running to escape and finally a cliff-hanger ending. As Tom enters the cave he disappears out of sight but listening to the music we could tell exactly what was happening. Even Jelly Bean at 3 years old could tell me what was happening. As the Orchestra played its final note, Tom burst back onto the stage carrying at baton with a large ball of Troll snot on the end of it. Jelly Bean was clapping along excitedly and I asked him what he thought, he said “it’s really brilliant Mummy”. Sadly, for Tom, it wasn’t the right baton and it didn’t work it’s magic for Tim and the Orchestra so Tom had to keep on searching.
The Great Orchestral Adventure took us over mountains, into outer space (with Star Wars much to Beanie Boy’s delight) and even under water. Each time the music changed along with the lighting and you could feel your emotions change as you were transported along the magical journey.
At one point in the adventure Tom asked Tim whether he had looked everywhere for his baton before began or whether he had looked with ‘boys’ eyes’, I always call it the ‘man scan’ so this tickled me. Tim said that he perhaps hadn’t looked everywhere in his dressing room so if Tom promised not to do anything with the Orchestra whilst he was gone, he would pop back and have a look.
Once in a lifetime opportunity
Whilst he was gone, Tom couldn’t completely stick to his promise so he called for a volunteer from the audience to come up and take the Conductor’s position. This very cleverly worked into a section to teach the audience what exactly a Conductor is doing so you don’t just see someone frantically waving their hands in the air. He explained how they keep the time of the music and use hand signals to tell the musicians when to play and when to stop or when to play louder or quieter. The young girl who cook Tim’s place did a great job and left with a great story to take back to school along with special goody bag. Then as if by magic Tim reappeared, without his magic baton to a round of applause. He suspiciously asked why everyone was clapping and whether Tom had done anything with his Orchestra. When Tom responded that he hadn’t, his loyal audience could back him up without a problem.
The entire show lasted almost 2 hours and had us mesmerised from start to finish, we were encouraged to sing and dance along, it calls for lots of audience participation and it was nice to see that pretty much everyone joined in.
I won’t tell you where Tim eventually finds his baton, for that you’ll have to go along and see for yourself but I promise you will not be disappointed.
What the Beans thought
Little Bean – Tom was really funny and I liked the mermaid and when we danced to Swan Lake but it was very loud at times – 8/10
Beanie Boy – It was great, I really liked the Star Wars music and when Tom had to go into the Troll cave and got snot all over his hand. That was really funny – 10/10
Jelly Bean – It was really brilliant. I liked going on a Bear Hunt – 10/10
DISCLAIMER: We were given complimentary tickets to The Great Orchestral Adventure. All words, images and opinions are my own and may not be copied without my permission. I have not been instructed what to write.