The Southbank Centre is tackling the antipathy head-on this April, with an energetic performance of modern composer Nathaniel Stookey's world-famous work, The Composer is Dead, which uses storytelling to acquaint children and parents with the transcendental and formidable power of classical music.
Radio and television presenter Nicholas Parsons will be filling the shoes of the work's usual narrator, children's author Lemony Snicket, and walking the audience through the story of the death of a composer introducing it to the Orpheus Sinfonia's component parts.
When the death of the composer proves suspicious, an inspector arrives to interrogate the various sections of the orchestra and find the guilty party. Each section provides an alibi of varying credibility that gives them the chance to show off their momental skills. The flutes ('the shiniest and highest pitched of the woodwinds') claim to have been doing bird imitations: 'it seems like that's all we ever do'. The cellos 'were providing accompaniment'.
Nathaniel Stookey's prestige is such that his first commission came from the San Fransisco Symphony when he was at the tender age of only 16, and it was this same orchestra which in 2006 first premiered and recorded The Composer is Dead.
If you're still not sure whether this murder mystery matinee is for you, have a look its opening lines and try not to laugh:
‘“Composer” is a word which here means “a person who sits in a room, muttering and humming and figuring out what notes the orchestra is going to play.” This is called composing.
But last night, the composer was not humming. He was not moving or even breathing. This is called decomposing.’
Described by Lemony Snicket as the 'gateway drug that will lead to a lifelong addiction to classical music', The Composer is Dead is followed on the night by the equally immersive although slightly more grown-up Tchaikovsky Fantasy Overture, Romeo & Juliet.
Suitable for ages 6-14
|What||The Composer is Dead: A Family Concert at The Royal Festival Hall|
Royal Festival Hall
Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX | MAP
|Nearest tube||Waterloo (underground)|
On 16 Apr 16, 12:00 PM – 3:00 PM
|Website||Click here to book via The Menuhin Competition Trust|