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The project has been set up with the aim of introducing the Royal Centre’s classical music programme to a new audience: people who do not go to classical concerts, who believe the music is elitist or feel they cannot afford to attend. The group will learn about the various musicians that make up an orchestra, the role of the conductor and the development of classical music over its 800-year history. It is hoped this will help them get the most out of their experience of seeing the Halle Orchestra play live.
Neil Bennison, Classical Music programmer at the Royal Centre, led the first session with support from Laila Risdon of the Indigo Brave Theatre Company. Neil gave us a potted history of classical music, explaining its development from Gregorian chant to Modernism. He played us Mars, from Holstz’ The Planet Suite, a very exciting and dramatic piece of music. We then looked at the beginning of the film Gladiator, the music for which was heavily influenced by Holstz. Neil highlighted other uses of classical music in popular culture – films, television and advertising – to show the group that, whilst they might view the music as something other or not for them, it actually plays a big part in things they already enjoy.
After the session one participant, who felt they didn’t know much about classical music before, commented, “I learned about stuff I’d always been curious about”.
The atmosphere at the session was fantastic and everyone really got into the spirit of the event & this fantastic music. We are looking forward to the rest of the sessions.