Fairytale endings

Frozen on stage

Photo credit: Laura Munslow

Glitter, plaits, high pitched excitement… And that was just the choir… (Well ok, probably not the men).

I love Disney. I was one of those children who sang along to everything and wanted to voice a character when I grew up. I would have been over the moon to have an event like Frozen in concert to go to (I mean I was fairly excited anyway and I’m now in my thirties).

I was genuinely curious as to how this concert was going to work. It’s really not an easy thing to have a live orchestra and choir perform alongside a film, with the endless opportunities to get out of sync or miss a cue. We were slightly reassured by the thought that it was likely to be a forgiving audience of mainly young children, until someone pointed out they would likely know every single note…

I will give credit to Julian Wilkins here, who must be by now absolutely sick of the soundtrack given how well prepared he got us for this concert. He was probably relieved he got to spend yesterday in Manchester with the Youth Chorus who were performing the more usual CBSO fare of Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms. Personally I’m not sure when the perpetual earworms of ‘Do you wanna build a snowman’ and ‘Fixer Upper’ are going to leave me, but I think it will be a while.

As we found out, the way you keep in sync with films is by using a click track. For the uninitiated, it is literally clicks you can hear (via headphones) that tell you where the beat is. If you’re not with the clicks, then you’re out of sync with the picture. We unfortunately didn’t get the click track in the concert, so we were relying on the conductor, and it turns out that it’s quite tricky to conduct along to a click track. Enough said.

By some miracle though, it all came together in the performance. The tech team had managed to get the sound working properly (for the first half of the rehearsal we’d had no film dialogue!), everyone who should have had microphones had microphones, and the music was synchronised with the picture. We were told it sounded good out in the auditorium, and this was evident thanks to the excitement of lots of small children singing along, waving flashing wands and jumping up and down!

One thing I was struck by was that a number of parents were commenting afterwards on social media that is was the first time their child had ever been to a live orchestra concert. That’s amazing. For children to have the opportunity to experience the magic of both Disney and live music together is just wonderful.

And talking of princesses, have the CBSO found their own? After a lengthy search, they have appointed Lithuanian Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla as their music director. I’ve not seen her conduct yet, but I’m told she’s terribly exciting and she certainly was lovely and hugely energetic when she popped into a chorus rehearsal recently. I’m looking forward to working with her.

While I’m not usually a huge fan of pointing out gender in the workplace, there is an understandable focus on the fact that she’s a woman in a profession dominated by men. Mirga herself acknowledges it is an opportunity to be a role model, to allow girls to see that this is an opportunity open to them. I am really proud of being part of an organisation that’s leading the way in this respect, as well as many others.

Let’s hope the parents of the little Elsas and Annas who were in the audience yesterday are able to bring them to see Mirga conduct one day, so they can see what may just be the fairytale ending to the CBSO’s search for an inspirational leader.

You can see Mirga conducting the CBSO at the BBC Proms on Saturday 27 August.


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