The Lord of the Strings

Sunday Herald

Children’s Classic Concerts
Usher Hall, Edinburgh by Christopher Lambton

Is it really 10 years since Children’s Classic Concerts had the audacity to offer real live orchestral music to children? The idea is simplicity itself: a big orchestra and real music, the only concession to tender youth being brevity. It has been a success from the start – a Scottish innovation that has spawned imitators in England and overseas. CCC has had its ups and downs, though.

I am one of those grumpy critics who has ignored screams of pleasure from his own children in order to fulminate against silly lighting or ill-prepared theatrical gestures. But no-one ever said it would be easy. It has been a challenge: one problem being to devise a format that allows children to enjoy the concerts when they are three and still to enjoy them when they are thirteen.

In this concert CCC comes of age triumphantly. Conductor and artistic director Christopher Bell has found an excellent balance between chat and music. The highlight is a new commission from Savourna Stevenson, Misterstourworm and the Kelpie’s Gift, a brilliantly coloured showpiece based on a fusion of folk tales narrated with gusto by Lord of the Rings star Billy Boyd. I was prepared to harrumph when Boyd later mounted the podium and pretended to conduct the William Tell Overture but, in truth, I laughed loud.

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