A family experience of LSO Discovery

17 Jun

About five years ago I came across an article in a newspaper about the LSO family concerts. Having determined to make the most of living in a great capital city we thought we’d go along to one despite (as non concert goers) being slightly apprehensive about what to expect. We all (2 adults and 3 children) enjoyed it (the volume was a real surprise!) and started to become regular attenders. At about the same time I started to go to the Friday lunchtime Discovery concerts at St Luke’s. There have been many memorable moments from this over the years – most recently the performance of John Adams’ ‘Shaker Loops’ – and I love not only Rachel Leach’s humour and erudition but also the questions from the audience. It is especially good when someone (often elderly) gets very animated about something very detailed and specialised. There is some real passion on display. And it has a fantastically relaxed atmosphere – I never feel that someone is going to be scornful about my total lack of knowledge of the classical repertoire. If the Friday concert coincides with a school holiday I bring my children along too, knowing that a 45 minute concert is just the right length for someone under 10.

Attending lunchtime concerts at St Luke’s led to an even closer involvement for us as a family with LSO Discovery. Two summers ago we were at one of the outdoor lunchtime concerts and my eldest son Finnbar (then ten) picked up a leaflet about the LSO fusion orchestra. He was very keen to join despite having only been learning the tenor horn for about 10 months. His dad left him at St Luke’s with a degree of trepidation but he loved it and hasn’t missed a session since. He comes home tired but full of tales not just of music played but of friendships made, biscuits eaten and games won. As a nervous parent worried about leaving her boy with strangers in an unfamiliar part of town I have to say that the backroom organisation of Fusion is first rate – we’re always given lots of notice of workshops and the adults involved inspire great confidence. The first Fusion concert we attended (when Finnbar had only been to a few days of workshop) revealed the leader of Fusion, Paul Griffiths, and the professional players involved in it, to be alchemists. Surely this wasn’t the same boy playing as the one who appeared to mimic the QE2 docking (as one long suffering neighbour put it) when playing in his bedroom. He’s now switched to trombone and in addition to playing with Fusion plays with a full range of bands at our local music service provider – Newham Academy. I particularly enjoy it when a Fusion road show comes to Newham Academy as its good to see other children – whose parents might not have the confidence or time to get them up to St Luke’s – get a bit of the Fusion experience. Finnbar also got involved in the Pitch Perfect Lord Mayor’s Show event last year which was a real treat. Despite having grown up in Stepney – almost within walking distance of the city – I had never been to a Lord Mayor’s Show before.

So now we have a boy, nearing the end of his first year at secondary school who has discovered – through LSO Discovery – that he has a real interest in music. The days of family concerts have given way to his attending lots of LSO concerts – recent months have seen him in the audience for performances of pieces by Philip Glass, John Adams, Carl Nielsen, Thomas Adès and Mark-Anthony Turnage. He has benefited greatly from the cheap ticket schemes (£4 for a ticket is cheaper than a 3D movie ticket) and from the ‘Into the LSO’ pre-concert talks for teenagers. I think that we all need interests, things that get us away from the daily grind and the mundane and help us through what a poet termed ‘the long littleness of life’. LSO Discovery has given that to our family.

Joan Keating, Stratford, London E15

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