Music mourns Hiroshima

9th September 2005 at 01:00
Earth, wind and fire feature in the latest education project from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

Short works or extracts from a diverse range of composers have been selected to support the secondary music curriculum, spanning three centuries with Vivaldi, Beethoven, Rachmaninov, Stravinsky, Copland, Arnold, Penderecki and John Williams.

There will be two concerts this month, the first aimed at S1-S3 and the second at S4-S6, with Penderecki's tougher (and topical) "Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima" reserved for the older pupils attending the second concert. The S1-S3s will hear "Winter" from Vivaldi's Four Seasons instead.

The concerts will be conducted by James Lowe, the orchestra's youthful associate conductor, and presented by Paul Rissmann, its former animateur who now freelances with various music education projects.

His successor, Karen MacIver, describes them as "full-scale orchestral concerts using multimedia techniques".

"Paul will explore concepts such as melody, style, rhythm, texture and design with the pupils, and the concerts will demonstrate how both the symphony orchestra and musical styles have changed over time, using both music and visual elements," she explains.

Mari Lowery, principal music teacher at Lochend Community High in Glasgow, is a confirmed supporter of the RSNO's curriculum-focused work. "We try to take pupils to all of the RSNO's educational concerts, and we find them really excellent," she says.

"It is good for the kids to see the orchestra with the dinner jackets off, which helps dispel that air of exclusivity that can hang around classical music. The way the concerts are compiled with digestible extracts from a variety of works is also very useful. In class we play music to the kids from recordings, but seeing the orchestra play live makes a huge difference."

Ms Lowery also praises the way in which Paul Rissman tailors not only the music but also his mode of presentation to the curriculum requirements.

"He is very good at describing musical concepts using language that ties in directly with the language used in the Scottish Qualifications Authority curriculum," she says.

"The work that the RSNO does in these concerts supports our work in the classroom very directly. We can take it back into our work with the children, most obviously in the listening component of the curriculum, but it helps feed into the composition element as well.

"Paul is also very good at explaining how the composers have done things, and analysing the processes that go into making the music. It's very useful for children who are learning to play instruments - these concerts give them a chance to see best practice at first hand."

The Earth, Wind and Fire concerts are in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on September 13 at 11am for S1-S3, 1.30pm for S4-S6. Tickets pound;4.

For more information or tickets, contact Lyn Underwood at the RSNO, tel 0141 225

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