Discovery Assistant Eamonn McElevey has been working with the LSO for just a few weeks. He writes this report of one of his first projects, LSO On Track at the BMW LSO Open Air Classics in Trafalgar Square.
On Sunday 11 May 2014, a packed Trafalgar Square watched and listened as the LSO gave another awe-inspiring performance amidst the hustle and bustle of busy London. The third item in the all-Prokofiev programme was Lieutenant Kijé, which was made somewhat more special as it included a group of talented, up-and-coming young musicians. Playing alongside their more experienced counterparts was no doubt a nerve-wracking experience but the performance was slick and professional and all involved did themselves proud.
I was lucky enough to be involved in the project from the first rehearsal. I remember the anxious faces staring up at conductor Tim Redmond as he counted them in for the first time. It was amazing to see how this mixed-ability, multi-age ensemble worked so well together from the outset. Tim’s encouragement and enthusiasm really brought the players together and composer Gareth Glyn’s expert arrangement allowed everyone to really feel like their part was integral to the success of the performance.
Although this was the third time in succession I’ve been invited to the Trafalgar Square concerts of the LSO, in connection with the musical arranging work I do for LSO Discovery, it was as exciting as on the very first occasion. It warmed the heart (especially on such an unseasonably cold day) to see many thousands of people standing in the square, listening so attentively to an orchestral concert, and the excellent sound system meant that everybody could appreciate the hard work and talent of the young musicians as they tackled my version of Prokofiev’s Lieutenant Kijé Suite. Gareth Glyn composer
Splitting into sectionals allowed each group to tackle their individual parts and when they came together for the last half-an-hour, the improvement in playing was remarkable. Each section of the orchestra was overseen by an LSO player, who guided their section and was on hand to answer any questions and sort out any areas which were particularly difficult.
We had three On Track rehearsals before the day of the concert to sort out the notes and talk about the way in which we were going to play them, also discussing how to perform and work as a group. There was massive improvement through those days and we arrived on the stage in the Square confident of the job in hand. It was great to have the assistance of Marina Aldeguer from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama with us to help with this process. In the end, playing such wonderful music to a crowd like that – well there is nothing better. I was stopped in the street the next day by a tourist wanting to say how much they had enjoyed the performance. It’s incredibly satisfying to feel part of the cultural life of one of the great cities of the world. Matt Gibson LSO Double Bass
Those involved were from LSO On Track and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. On Track is an initiative for young instrumentalists across East London, bringing together the excitement of live performance and the adrenalin rush of making music with others. Having students from Guildhall School of Music & Drama strengthened the relationship already established with the LSO seen through initiatives such as the Orchestral Artistry Master’s programme, a highly distinctive and ground-breaking specialism which sees students work alongside LSO players, international artists and conductors.
The LSO Discovery team ensured that the concert ran smoothly and most importantly, that everyone involved was enjoying being part of such an incredible experience. Working with Amy Majumdar and Beth Kershaw at the rehearsals was a lot of fun. Both ensured that everyone involved had a great experience and expertly oversaw the planning and coordination of each session. Making sure squash and biscuits were ready for the break was, as all the young players would agree, a most important task!
Here in LSO Discovery, we think that this year’s Trafalgar Square concert was the best yet! A thoughtful and effective arrangement of Prokofiev’s Lieutenant Kijé by Gareth Glyn allowed each young musician to play an important and individual role in the ensemble, and they took to the stage like pros. The pressure was on (expecting a big London crowd), but throughout the project there was plenty of support from LSO musicians and Guildhall students who coached the group from the first rehearsal under the expert guidance of conductor Tim Redmond.
From the beginning of the process through to the final performance, we saw a huge change in the sound and dynamic of the ensemble. Everyone worked so hard to perfect their bit, that the adrenaline and excitement of the concert day made for a really high quality performance, with plenty of smiles and high fives afterwards. We saw new music and new friends made, and it was a great example of the quality of musicianship coming through the East London music services. We are tremendously proud to have been able to showcase the next generation of musicians at this landmark event and if the future of music depends on young musicians like these, there’s a lot to look forward to.
Amy Majumdar LSO On Track Projects Manager
On the day, I greeted the young players and their parents as they arrived. All were prepared for the rigorous day ahead, with sound checks and run-throughs planned. Even when all there was to do was wait (im)patiently in St Martin in the Fields, excitement was in the air (along with a few paper airplanes!).
It was a pleasure to work with every one of them. They were all so friendly and professional and it was great to see each of them develop over the course of the rehearsals. The performance itself was a complete success and received the biggest cheer of the evening (maybe I am biased?). The rain held off and the sun even made its first appearance of the day halfway through the piece!
Afterwards, the atmosphere was incredible and everyone agreed that it could not have gone any better. The excitement was contagious and all involved were so happy to have had the opportunity to have taken part in the concert. Indeed, many wanted to do it all again!
I really enjoyed my time with LSO On Track. As the rehearsals progressed, I found myself increasingly looking forward to the chance of playing the Lieutenant Kijé suite in concert. The actual concert with the LSO, playing in the centre of Trafalgar Square with thousands of people watching and listening, was the best concert and one of the best musical experiences I have ever had.
Cian Gough On Track – Cello
The experience was scary, knowing that I would be playing before thousands of people, but also inspiring and exhilarating. We played brilliantly and the audience was very appreciative. Playing alongside the LSO was a marvellous opportunity.
Florence Piper On Track – Clarinet
LSO On Track
Yasmin Maria Antoniou
Mila Jacob Syer
Guildhall School of Music & Drama
Alejandra Diaz Perez
Philip Pollard Collingham
London Symphony Orchestra
Sharon Williams (piccolo)
Olivier Stankiewicz (oboe)
Chi-Yu Mo (clarinet)
Dan Jemison (bassoon)
Joost Bosdijk (bassoon)
Tim Jones (horn)
Jonathan Lipton (horn)
Gerry Ruddock (trumpet)
Paul Milner (trombone)
Patrick Harrild (tuba)