Benjamin Britten to be the focus of the next Children's Classic Concert
Owen and Olly are reworking the British composer's Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra
Had he not checked out a little prematurely in 1976, Benjamin Britten would have been 100 this year. Birthday celebrations are taking place across the UK, but Children’s Classic Concerts’ Britten and Beyond is the only family event dedicated to one of the most important British composers of the 20th century.
Hosted by the irrepressible Owen Gunnell and Oliver Cox (aka Owen & Olly), and performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the concert will feature The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra as the centrepiece. Composed in 1946, as part of an educational documentary film, it’s one of Britten’s most famous works – and the ideal introduction to classical music for young audiences.
‘I first came across the piece as a student playing percussion in the orchestra,’ recalls Cox. ‘It works fantastically well because of the quality of the music, which is brilliant throughout, but then when you combine the visual and spoken aspects, it really brings the orchestra to life.’
A lively mix of playing and narration, The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra explores each member of the woodwind, brass, percussion and string sections of the orchestra. But, in an attempt to bring the work more up to date, Gunnell and Cox have re-written the original narration and given it their own stamp.
‘We changed the wording so that audiences today can listen to it and not feel like they’re in a 1940s classroom,’ explains Cox. ‘It’s less formal and a bit more personal to the musicians in the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.’ Children will have a chance to meet those musicians afterwards and, according to Cox, a party atmosphere will prevail throughout – despite the birthday boy’s lack of attendance.
‘We want our concert to be a celebration,’ says Cox, ‘and to create a real party atmosphere. So we’ll have a range of audience participation, from pass the parcel to synchronised dancing in the aisles, to get everyone in a party mood.’
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Sat 20 Apr.