Wednesday 8 June 2011

Mr Big goes to Norwich!

A couple of weeks ago our Creative Learning team presented a fantastic schools concert at St. Andrew’s Hall, Norwich as part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival (NNF 2011). It was based on the children’s book, Mr. Big by Ed Vere which is about a huge gorilla who plays the piano! The people in the city where he lives are afraid of him because of his size, but he is actually very shy inside. It is only when they hear him playing beautiful music on the piano that they become his friend and realize that he isn’t scary at all!

Leading the day was composer & workshop leader Hannah Conway, alongside Mr Big’s author and illustrator, Ed Vere and the string section from Britten Sinfonia. Prior to the concert 150 children attended a creative workshop where they made gorilla masks.

The concert was attended by 450 local primary school children – all of whom had learned four songs written by Hannah Conway based on the story, which they all knew inside out! Hannah told the story and led the songs while Ed illustrated live on a massive projector screen for everyone to see. It was magical seeing him draw the characters as Hannah told the story and got everyone involved. The teachers and staff even joined in with the singing and actions!

Britten Sinfonia played lots of short pieces in among the story, with a musician demonstrating various techniques. This allowed the children to learn about all of the different instruments, their names and what they sound like. They definitely know what pizzicato and a cadenza are!

After the concert there was a Q & A session where Hannah, Ed and Britten Sinfonia musicians Martin Outram and Miranda Dale were asked questions by the children. They had great questions like “Just how big is Mr. Big!?” and “What instruments play in the orchestra?”. They also read out letters which they had written to Mr. Big.

Overall we had a wonderful day and had really positive feedback from children and teachers alike. We hope that we can perform with Ed and Hannah and Mr Big again soon.

Debbie Hannaway
Trainee Creative Learning Administrator
DCMS Jerwood Creative Bursary Scheme Postholder

Photos © The Photo Unit

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