Hearing professional-level-Western-classical-music in the Middle East can sometimes be challenging! So there was a lot of excitement in the department when we found out that the London Symphony Orchestra were playing two concerts here. One of my colleagues had previously studied with some of the LSO performers and so managed to organise a student outing to attend one of their rehearsals. As well as getting to hear a live orchestra (which some students had never experienced before), the students got to meet three of the performers and had the opportunity to ask them various questions. This was an incredibly valuable experience which allowed the students to ask a variety of questions from practice techniques to the logistics of transporting double basses around the world! The performers were so down-to-earth and great with the students. If this is a little sample of what their educational outreach is like then I'll definitely be checking that out in the future.
During the actual rehearsal the students were totally rapt with listening to the orchestra. It was such a good educational time for them - the questions that they were asking during the breaks were great:
'The instruments must be amplified - No? How's it possible to hear the single flute over the orchestral texture?!'
'Why do the double basses have a longer low string?' (meaning the extension)
'Why are there two tubas?'
'Why are the double basses to the right of the conductor and the cellos in the middle?'
'It's amazing that 3 trumpets and 3 trombones can take on the full string section!'
So as well as being an epic experience for the students it was also educationally excellent. As teachers we'll be able to build on this experience for a long time to come and add value to what we're doing in the classroom. And, talking of the classroom, they performed the main theme from Star Wars (a GCSE set work) simply because the students were visiting the rehearsal! Nice.