Christmas Carnival - Concert for children combines percussion with the orchestra

Children’s Classic Concerts strike balance between music and mirth

Christmas Carnival - Concert for children combines percussion with the orchestra

Olly Cox and Owen Gunnell

Faced with the sound and power of a full orchestra, it’s hard not to be impressed, whatever your age or musical persuasion. When you’re hovering between 4 and 14, however, you sometimes need a little spice in your sonata to stay occupied.

For years, Children’s Classic Concerts has struck a fine balance between music and mirth – giving audiences something to giggle at without dumbing down the programming. The arrival of percussionist co-hosts Olly Cox and Owen Gunnell in late 2008 only compounded their success.

‘Since Owen and I started with Children’s Classic Concerts, we’ve always tried to do the same thing,’ says Cox, ‘which is to get children interested in classical music by making it fun.’ Having teamed up with new partners, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra for their excellent Halloween concert in October, the dynamic duo are now turning their attention to Christmas.

But with two festive programmes already under their belts, is it hard to come up with fresh ideas? ‘Christmas is a difficult one,’ agrees Cox. ‘Our aim is still the same, but with the added extra of trying to get into the Christmas spirit. So yes, we always include old favourites – people would be disappointed if we didn’t – but Christmas is also about new things, new presents, new surprises.’

That said, a bit of experience also comes in handy, and it’s clear Owen and Olly have both grown into their roles over the past two years. ‘Presenting a concert is a bit like performing,’ says Cox. ‘You’re having a conversation with the audience, and you have to listen and feel how they’re reacting. The more relaxed you are the more you can tune in - and that’s what we try to do – relax, have fun and bring the audience along with us.’

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Sat 11 Dec; Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Sun 12 Dec

Children's Classic Concerts: Christmas Carnival

Christmas shenanigans with Owen, Olly and the RSNO. We heard something about a fat man in a red suit carrying some sort of pudding, but don't let on you heard it here.


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