I’m travelling down to London today in anticipation of four children’s performances of Stan and Mabel at the Wigmore Hall, with Ensemble 360 and Polly Ives.
It’s really exciting to be bringing Stan and Mabel to the Wigmore, following successful performances in Sheffield, around South Yorkshire, and across the UK in the last 12 months. The Wigmore Hall is a particularly special place to play, not just because of its wonderful acoustic and beautiful appearance, but also because you really can sense the spirit of every amazing chamber musician that has ever played there, and indeed stand in awe surrounded by photos of some of the greatest musicians of all time backstage in the green room. The Education and Family Concerts that the ensemble have previously given at the Wigmore have been extremely well received, full of beaming, enthusiastic children and their parents, so I am very much looking forward to the next couple of days!
The children’s works that Paul Rissmann has composed for Polly and Ensemble 360 have all been absolutely fantastic and Stan and Mabel really is no exception. The story is particularly fitting with its musical theme, the main characters (a dog and a cat) travelling to a music competition at La Scala, Milan and creating an animal-playing orchestra from friends they meet on their journey there.
Paul always manages to compose very catchy, easy to learn songs which grab both children’s and adults’ attention and imagination. His pieces are also great fun for the group to play: not only are they are extremely well written for all the individual instruments but they are often also quite intricate and tricky in places which keeps it interesting! Polly Ives is absolutely brilliant at presenting the concerts, with a natural, infectious enthusiasm which the children adore – and the group really enjoy getting involved, throwing ourselves into the song and actions!
I think these education projects are pretty unique, compared to similar events I have taken part in elsewhere. The project starts way before the performances, with Polly and members of the group going into schools to teach them the songs. By the time the children arrive at a schools’ concert performance it is fantastic to hear them all singing along and showing us the masks or puppets or videos they have been inspired to create in response. It’s wonderful to see children being introduced, involved and excited by classical music like this!!
Juliette is Ensemble 360’s flautist – you can find her website at www.juliettebausor.com