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  • Writer's pictureFiona Thompson

Free children’s concert in Pimlico

If you came to St Gabriel’s church in Pimlico on Saturday, you’d have found the place crowded with prams, parents and children of all ages. People had gathered together to take part in London City Orchestra’s first ever children’s concert.

It was a truly joyful occasion, where children had the chance to meet the players, try out their instruments and have a go at conducting. The event was free, to give as many children as possible the chance to attend.

We played a host of well-known music from films including Superman, Star Wars and Jurassic Park, drawing on the programme for our concert at Cadogan Hall next weekend.

Nine-year-old Louis co-presented the concert in great style, rushing up and down the aisle dressed in a variety of costumes to introduce the music. He started in a Superman cloak, put on a dinosaur head for Jurassic Park and ended up wielding a light sabre for Star Wars. 

Louis asked Musical Director Thomas Payne about the orchestra, prompting different sections to play their instruments. The double basses played the ominous shark tune from Jaws, the flutes performed the magical theme from Harry Potter and the tuba got lots of laughs by blowing deeper and deeper raspberry noises.

Asked which instrument he’d like to learn, Louis announced that he’d like to conduct the orchestra. So Thomas supervised as we played an extract from the Star Wars suite.

During the tea break, children were given delicious refreshments provided free of charge by The Fishmongers’ Company, which sponsored the concert. Each child received a special Fishmongers’ bag, filled with sandwiches, crisps, fresh Kent strawberries and miniature Victoria sponges and chocolate cake.

Afterwards, children had the opportunity to try out various instruments, with the support of LCO players. Orchestra members knelt on the floor so they were at the right height for the children, who enthusiastically blew into flutes, horns, trumpets, trombones, bassoons and tubas and tried their hand at the violin, viola, cello, double bass and harp.

Meanwhile, children queued along the aisle behind the podium to become the LCO’s youngest ever conductors. Under Thomas’ guidance, they conducted the orchestra as we played Princess Leia’s theme and the main title from Star Wars.

We wanted to share our love of music with the next generation, so our concert was open to any young people who fancied hanging out with an orchestra for an afternoon. 

All 300 tickets for the concert were booked, with many families coming from the local Pimlico area. Others came from as far away as Tower Bridge and even from outside London. Prams were lined up at the back of the church and one tiny three-week-old baby slept through the entire performance!

The event was supported by Restore the Music, a charity that helps unlock children’s musical potential by working with state schools in areas of socio-economic deprivation. The charity helped us reach children in local primary schools who may not have had the chance to hear an orchestra before.

“We’re so proud to have supported this event,” says Polly Stepan Moore, CEO of Restore the Music. “It was totally brilliant. I so enjoyed watching all the kids and their parents enthralled by the music. The way everything was presented made it all so accessible. For me, that was the best part and exactly how a children’s concert should be.” 

Polly’s not alone in thinking that we achieved our aim of inspiring children with the power of music. 

Ben Morales Frost brought his nephew to hear his first ever concert. “He’s learning the piano but hadn’t ever heard an orchestra,” Ben told us on Instagram. “His face when they played Jurassic Park! And a friendly chap let him try out the violin.”

He added: “Super informal. Perfect for youngsters. Wish more orchestras did events like this.”

We’re already thinking about putting on another children’s concert. Do get in touch with us if you’re interested.

In the meantime, please come and hear our ‘LCO Goes to Hollywood’ concert at Cadogan Hall at 5pm on Sunday 14 July. We’re performing all the film favourites we played for the children, as well as many more. Book your tickets here. We hope to see you in Chelsea on Sunday!

Article by Fiona Thompson


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