Cambridge Philharmonic's family concert was 'loved by all'
A full house of children, parents and grandparents enjoyed Cambridge Philharmonic's annual family concert at West Road Concert Hall on Saturday (January 13) afternoon with Tim Redmond, principal conductor, and brother, Tom Redmond, as presenters.
Children love these partnerships - Pip and Posy, Meg and Mog, Topsy and Tim – so, on Saturday at West Road, Tim and Tom were off to a flying start.
Morecambe and Wise they were not, but nevertheless, Tim and Tom knew a thing or two about how to present a show, keep it moving, keep it jokey, and keep it interesting.
The result – not a single child cried, or left, or looked bored which for a whole hour was a triumph in itself.
At the front of the platform was a box. And from this box Tom produced, seemingly at random, a selection of things, including: a snow shaker with a castle on a rocky outcrop - cue for the atmospheric Ride of the Valkyries.
And so it went on, a cowboy hat and pair of riding boots launched Copland’s Rodeo, which had the orchestra doing a bit of a dance. Each section was introduced; the brass were hopeless dancers; the string section, better. Orchestra and audience duly contributed the thigh-slapping and ‘yeee -haaaas’.
In Rossini’s William Tell Overture (apple, bow and arrow) we were all invited to be yodellers: “Knock knock’, ‘who’s there?’, ‘little old lady;’ ‘little old lady, who?’ There wasn’t a mention of The Lone Ranger. Although Tim and Tom acknowledged the grandparents’ era when they displayed a turntable, played a scratchy record and said it was a “kind of MP3 player for old people!”
There was a serious purpose to it all of course. The children were obviously held spellbound by the sight of a full scale orchestra playing, and Tim and Tom reminded everyone that music did not always have to have a narrative theme. Mascagni’s Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana gave us all a moment to reflect on the orchestra’s power to allow us to ‘think’ about anything we ourselves chose to.
Bits of stage business and banter continued. At one point Tom actually fell into the box, a highlight for the children, amazed to see him emerging, after the orchestra played Jonathan Dove’s modern piece, Run to the Edge, dressed as Superman, and exiting stage right “to fight crime in Cambridge” - cue for John Williams’ incidental music for the film.
Rummaging once more in the chest, Tom found a French horn. No mean horn player, he then performed the allegro from Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 3.
All too soon it was time for the finale. This was the last part of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, and Tom filled in the historical details, wearing the appropriate hats for the French and the Russian armies, and holding up prompt cards for the audience: ‘Cheer’, ‘Stop’, ‘Bang’ – an even more effective way of concluding than the old “with cannon and mortar effects”.
The children, and everyone else, loved it all. Congratulations to Tim, Tom, and the Cambridge Philharmonic, for their skill, enthusiasm and dedication to sowing these all-important seeds in musical education. “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.”