Sheffield world premiere brings classical thrills to the young

Onyx Brass, October 2015
Onyx Brass, October 2015

Sir Scallywag and the Battle of Stinky Bottom may sound an unlikely title for a classical music concert.

But this production, brought to the stage by Music in the Round, is aimed at an audience likely to appreciate its irreverent humour.

Children’s composer in residence Paul Rissman presents the world premiere of his new concert for young audiences at a performance for primary schools today, November 4.

Based on the book by Giles Andreae with illustrations by Korky Paul, this is the latest Sir Scallywag story, and will be performed by Ensemble 360 and narrator Polly Ives.

It is packed with lively classical music along with storytelling, book illustrations and plenty of audience involvement.

Based on the story of King Colin, who sets his sights on finding the famous Golden Sausage, it asks if a six-year-old knight, Sir Scallywag, will be mighty enough to defeat the filthy trolls and win the Stinkiest Battle Ever?

This Music in the Round event follows a half-term family concert for children aged five plus, that was a lively and interactive introduction to brass music and brass playing, while music box workshops continue to cater for youngsters aged two to five.

The autumn season includes two concerts and a Bring and Play Day, as part of a dedicated programme to celebrate the life of the late founder member of Music in the Round, Peter Cropper.

As the UK’s leading promoter of chamber music outside London in the UK, Music in the Round is driven by the belief that music has the power to change and enrich people’s lives, and it reaches out to thrill diverse audiences, from the very young to the elderly, with its variety of concert events.

This current focus on schoolchildren and music education is part of a wider programme to engage young minds.

Every year, thousands of young people are introduced to live classical music through the Music in the Community programme, featuring work by award-winning composer Paul Rissman.

Via his website blog, Paul explains his mission to open up the world of music to the young: “It baffles me how little classical music has been written for young audiences.

“The two greats - Peter and the Wolf and Carnival of the Animals – both of them unquestionably magnificent, date back to 1936 and 1886 respectively.

“Sadly, there seems to be a chronic lack of new repertoire designed to appeal to children.

“To bridge this gap, I started to explore the possibility of creating new musical adventures for young audiences.

“In this digital age I questioned if there was a more modern way to present classical musicians.

“Given how saturated our lives are by new media, how challenging is it for a five-year-old child to sit still for 60 minutes in a concert hall? And more importantly – why should we even expect them to do that?”

Paul began experimenting with presentational style, by inserting a narrative into a classical work and ‘telling the story behind the music over the music.’

He found fun ways to invite huge audiences to participate with musicians, and projected visuals above the orchestra.

As Children’s Composer for Music in the Round, he has written a series of works for award-winning Ensemble 360 and narrator Polly Ives.