Saturday, March 07, 2020

Kindermusik – since Mozart was composing aged five, The Belfast Ensemble want to inspire young people to follow suit #BCF2020

On Saturday afternoon, I sighed as I drove out of the Stormont Hotel car park and down the Newtownards Road towards the city centre. There are days when blogging about politics and covering party conferences clashes with artistic events. Should I stop off at St Martin’s? Or should I just drive past, swinging onto the Lagan Bridge and down the Westlink to head home.

I’m so glad I stopped.

Last year The Belfast Ensemble performed a concert version of The Musician, a children’s horror opera. This year they were back with Kindermusik, a gentle tale about a musical journey.

Once upon a time there was a page of music, but amongst the lines and notes was a dot who wasn’t like the other dots. She dreamt of freedom, jumping off the page, landing with a clang on the piano, and bouncing off onto a highly-strung violin. From there it was a quick hop to a clarinet with a sticky key, a grumpy old cello, a drum, a trumpet and a flute.

Instruments pick up where Abigail McGibbon’s storytelling snippets end – why isn’t she narrating CBeebies nightly Storytime? – and the young audience sit on cushions (with chairs for the older bottoms) in the middle of the floor, listening to the musicians who are seated on small platforms around the circumference. No conductor is required with eye contact across the room used to coordinate the playing. Beautifully tuned sounds reverberate off the old church’s brick walls. Conor Mitchell throws in a wee joke at the expense of jazz, and drummers and trumpet players should be on high alert for any signs of disrespect!

Over 40 minutes we all learn about pitch and duration, composing and harmonising. A bit of nifty deconstruction reveals that Mozart was aged five when he wrote his Minuet in G, as young as some of those sitting on the floor listening to Kindermusik. Soon the dot is composing its own tune, a familiar melody that is at first melancholic before blooming into something joyful.

Back in 2017 I wrote that “the genius of The Belfast Ensemble is that together the artists produce high quality, imaginative work that is riddled with enough layers of meaning that you are left wanting to hit rewind and go back to the beginning to breathe it all in again”.

This afternoon, I found myself sitting in a circle, listening to the music and words tell a story, with a huge satisfied grin on my face. Kindermusik is definitely high quality, definitely imaginative and oozes charm for young and old.

Kindermusik continues as part of Belfast Children’s Festival until Sunday 8 March.

No comments: