Kidenza provide magical melodies and family fun at Christ’s Hospital

Steve Dummer
Steve Dummer

Children and families can enjoy A Musical Feast With a Wolf and a Beast when Kidenza head to Christ’s Hospital, Horsham, on December 16 (2pm and 4pm).

The concert will include the premiere of a new adaptation of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf.

Best-selling author Ann Bryant, who has written new words for the piece, will be there to narrate, and the show will feature some fantastic illustrations as well.

Audiences will also be treated to four classic tunes from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

Overseeing it all is conductor Steve Dummer, who is also the musical director for Horsham Symphony Orchestra.

Kidenza’s aim, Steve explains, is to help children understand classical music in a fun way, and it’s something they’ve built up a great reputation for.

“The only concerts we do are designed for children,” Steve says. “So all the players are expert in their delivery. It’s always super vibrant and super exciting.”

It’s something Steve feels is important and the musicians make sure youngsters hear the ways in which different sounds and rhythms combine to make music.

“It’s such an interesting sound world that the orchestra can create,” he continues, explaining that the many acoustic instruments in an orchestra can have as much variety as colours on a painter’s palette.

“Peter and The Wolf is the perfect piece to perform because different instruments create the mood of the different animals. The clarinet is the cat, for example, the duck is the oboe.”

Pointing this out, Steve says, encourages kids to develop more sophisticated and nuanced listening skills.

“The other thing is the participation of it, just seeing the players doing this music onstage and having fun,” he adds. “There’s a possibility it might encourage children to take up instruments and do what we’re doing as well.”

Whether they eventually pick up an instrument or not, the young audience will certainly get a chance to make music at the Christ’s Hospital show, as halfway through there will be a rousing rendition of ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’.

It should loosen everybody up for the second half, Steve says, which features Beauty and the Beast numbers performed by “cracking live singers” in full costume as Belle, Beast, Mrs Potts and Lumiere.

With their fun, yet informative delivery, mixed-media approach and emphasis on getting everyone involved with clapping and singing parts, Kidenza are proving highly popular with kids and their parents.

“They absolutely love it,” says Steve. “We get some feedback forms and it’s amazing, with 97-98 percent saying they’ll come back.”

As he says, many of the children who saw their past concerts simply hadn’t seen anything like Kidenza before.

Last year, for example, the players offered a particularly engaging programme, which pulled in a huge audience at Christ’s Hospital.

“We did music from Frozen, which was the film of the moment,” Steve explains. “We did four or five songs and we coupled that with The Nutcracker with a couple of dancers.”

It’s terrific fun for Steve, but a Kidenza show isn’t without its fair share of challenges and this one is no exception.

“Probably the most complicated parts are the Beauty and the Beast songs,” Steve admits.

“The versions that we’ll be playing will be new to the musicians. Trying to hook it up with the singers and getting things together is always a problem in the rehearsal time that we have. Making sure the speeds are right, making sure the balance of the orchestra to the singers is right.”

He laughs: “Making sure we start in the right place.”

As Steve’s already explained though, the main challenge is making the show energetic and entertaining for its young target audience.

“But in some ways that’s not such a difficult thing,” he says. “The players are so experienced at this sort of stuff that they just know what to do.”

Tickets cost £15 for adults and £12 for children aged two to 16.

Visit www.kidenza.co.uk.

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