Animal antics at Christ’s Hospital in Kidenza’s classical children’s concert

Kidenza. Picture by Mark Seabrook
Kidenza. Picture by Mark Seabrook

Kidenza, a Community Interest Company that provides classical concerts for children, is heading to Horsham this weekend.

The musicians are at Christ’s Hospital on Saturday, June 18 (2.30pm), performing the Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saens.

Alex Neal. Picture by Mark Seabrook

Alex Neal. Picture by Mark Seabrook

Made up of 14 short pieces about things like elephants doing ballet and tortoises performing the Can-Can, the work aims to amuse both children and parents alike.

The tunes are brought to life by Kidenza’s unique digital animation. Danse Macabre and the Flight of the Bumble Bee are also in the programme.

Alex Neal, aka Naughty Alex, is the group’s conductor and percussionist. He has also been the co-principal percussionist of the BBC Symphony Orchestra since 2003. Alex spoke to the County Times this week to answer some questions.

Q: How did you get the nickname Naughty Alex?

A: I think Naughty Alex just developed from a couple of moments in the early Family Concerts where, for some reason, I decided to be a bit cheeky with Claire (director Claire Lambert) while she was compering the concert. The odd moment then raised a laugh or a reaction from the audience, which seemed to add to the Kidenza atmosphere, so we just ran with it!

Q: What makes the Kidenza concert special?

A: The entire audience is included and part of each performance. This also means that even if we have a repeated programme, every single concert will have it’s own unique moments.

Q: What has been your favourite Kidenza concert?

A: We did an entire percussion Kidenza concert a few years ago and at one point we had the whole audience in two or three different dancing trains following us around the entire church while we were playing. It wasn’t particularly planned but it ended up being one of those unique ‘wow’ moments that you’ll never forget.

Q: What kind of reaction do you get from the audience at Kidenza concerts?

A: Audiences at Kidenza concerts are generally wonderful. The children are often very excited and bubbly and so as long as we tap into their enthusiasm with clever questions, tasks and wonderful music they can relate to, then they are always going to be asking for more at the end.

Q: How is that different to the other orchestras you play with?

​A: I’ve taken part in numerous educational concerts, but one of the clear differences with Kidenza concerts is, because the size of the venues are normally small to medium, the audience inevitably ends up being much closer to, or even part of, the performing platform​. The audience then becomes part of the performance and this creates a very special atmosphere.

Q: Why should people come along and see Kidenza for themselves?

A: ​Kidenza concerts are always packed full with fun – the orchestra has an infectious happiness about it, the presentation is always hilarious with an ingredient of musical education whisked in and the on-screen animations are supreme. What more do you need?

Tickets are £9 per person. Visit

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