Saturday, December 04, 2010

Teddy bear concert

Another granny and I took our teddies to a concert today. It was rather sad really, because I had invited two grandchildren and their parents to come with me, as it was a special children's concert. But then they realised that my granddaughter's school concert was the same day, and as she had a part to play, she needed her family there to support her, obviously. So I set about trying to find some other children to take, but no luck, so a friend and I decided we would go anyway - AND take our teddies!

These Teddy concerts are given once a year where I live by the Kings Chamber Orchestra. They do a winter tour, and at each stop they give a children's concert in the afternoon, and an adults concert in the evening. I had only been to the evening concerts before and was keen to see what the Teddy Concert was like.

Well, we trod a roughish path to get there: severe weather made us wonder during the week if roads would be passable anyway, but by this morning a thaw was well under way, so driving was OK. We decided to have lunch first at the cafe next to the chapel where the concert was being held, but had been misinformed, and found it closed. Off in the car again to a nearby pub, The Red Cow, only to find a notice: SORRY, OUR KITCHEN IS CLOSED TODAY! Off again to a small shopping complex where we found fish and chips which we ate in the car, followed by takeaway coffees from the Tesco Express across the road. We took our coffees back with us to the chapel, and were in comfortable time to get good seats for the concert, where we surreptitiously sipped our drinks while waiting for the concert to begin, pretending that they were just shopping in plastic bags.

The chapel was soon full of children with their parents and their teddies, and the excitement in their faces was a joy. MY teddy by the way is called Ton-Ton Georges. Ton-ton is French baby-talk for Uncle, and Georges stands for Georges Brassens, the great and unique French singer songwriter. I bought my Georges at a concert given by an English group who give concerts of his songs, and was told that the mother of one of the performers knitted the teddies to raise funds for the group. He has a real take-off jumper and trousers, although his beret is fixed. I gave him his Christmas bell to wear.

Well, the performance was not so much a concert as a musical party. Every piece of music played involved the children and their teddies in some way: actions both strenuous and gentle, singing, shouting, and throwing our teddies in the air. Oh yes, Granny Rosemary and Granny Judith were going it with the best of them, though our gestures were somewhat more muted than those of the children.The orchestra even tried to lull us all to sleep at one point, and gave prizes for those who came nearest to it.

One highlight of the event was when the orchestra leader announced that he was going to show us how to make a cheap musical instrument at home - although mummies and daddies would have to do it of course, as it involved using a knife and a drill. Here is the recipe:

  • Take one large carrot and trim off the ends with a sharp knife.
  • Using a power drill, drill carefully into each end of the carrot, ensuring that the two drillings meet in the middle of the carrot.
  • Then drill eight holes in the sides of the carrot for seven fingers and a thumb.
  • Finally, take a bassoon reed, previously soaked in water, and insert it into one end of the carrot, which is now ready to play.

I kid you not: this talented cellist proceeded to play for us a "Concerto for carrot and orchestra" by Broccolini......! (I know, I was suspicious of that name when I saw it on the programme, although I didn't know then that it was a vegetable.) Now I couldn't swear to whether this was really happening. Maybe he was singing into the darned thing, but it certainly sounded like he got a tune out of it.

The story of the pictures, by the way, is of a little bag made in Ecuador which I bought from a stall on the way out, and of how much Georges liked it, so much so that he eventually insisted on being carried home in it. Maybe I shan't give it away as a Christmas present after all.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Halleluja Chorus for Advent

Wishing all my readers a Happy Advent and a Joyful Christmas.