Guildhall students perform with LSO at Queen's Medal for Music concert

Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher (1844-1900) said that ‘Without music, life would be a mistake’! I strongly felt that during last November when together with 12 wind students from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama I had the amazing opportunity to rehearse and then play with the London Symphony Orchestra on the 5th December at the Queen’s Medal for Music Concert at the Barbican Hall. It was a sold-out concert including in the programme the comeback of the famous violinist Maxim Vengerov playing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto and the LSO performing Elgar’s Enigma Variations in the second half. The concert was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Party were in the Barbican Hall in order to attend the concert. We (the Guildhall School students) were playing in the first piece of the concert, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ Fanfare: Her Majesty’s Welcome. This was a piece commissioned to the LSO (world premiere).

But our role in this project was dual: apart from playing the piece, we had to coach some young musicians (aged between 9-15) in order to play alongside us and the LSO members. And this was a unique experience! It is absolutely wonderful to see how the teacher learns so many things from the children. I had the opportunity to explore my playing through teaching, analyze how I do particular things and try to inspire the children. Music pedagogy is an area of great interest for me and I truly enjoyed this experience! We owe a lot to Amy Majumdar (the LSO On Track Project Manager) and her colleagues who together with the LSO members and the conductor had organized everything perfectly and made us feel so welcome immediately from the first moment!

I should report a funny mooment of these rehearsals: when the children werem't able to play the rhythm of 7/8, I tried to find a verbal motif to help them and the thing that came spontaneously to me at the moment was 'lemon-lemon-lemon tree'... It worked really well and the children were so excited with this that the next hour passed by listening to them singing 'lemon-lemon-lemon tree' and just playing their piece so easily!

I feel most grateful to the Guildhall School which offers us opportunities like these. Working with the LSO members, the very vivid conductor Timothy Redmond, the composer Peter Maxwell Davies (who came to the rehearsals) and all these young children was a great inspiration and the concert on the 5th December an unforgettable experience! After an Entry Fanfare by Dudley Bright for the entrance of the Queen and after the National Anthem, it was the time for our piece. What a joy to be on stage surrounded by 100 musicians (with such a variety of ages!) seeing the Barbican full of people waiting for a beautiful sound! It was magical! It made me think once more what I read some months ago at the Guildhall School's site: Pierre Boulez described the orchestra as an 'ensemble of possibilities' and this evening with all this musicians of different ages on stage was a great example of this!

Maria Papathanasiou, an article published by the Guiildhall School of Music & Drama in December 2012


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