London Symphony Orchestra is here for families with its supersonic space-themed concert

17 November 2020, 15:42 | Updated: 17 November 2020, 16:27

London Symphony Orchestra takes part in a socially-distanced rehearsal amid the coronavirus pandemic.
London Symphony Orchestra takes part in a socially-distanced rehearsal amid the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: PA

By Rosie Pentreath

Classic FM’s Orchestra in the City of London invites school groups and families to share the wonder of music in this online morning concert – watch here.

Space. There’s nothing as awe-inspiring, infinite and wonder-inducing.

Apart from music, perhaps. We might be biased...

Lucky for us, our partner orchestra London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) knows that well, and in a supersonic move are combining both things in a wonderful online event (see video below).

Or are they? For everything is not quite what it seems. Do read on...

Read more: Watch a spectacular online concert from London Symphony Orchestra >

In ‘Space… but not as we know it’, the LSO welcomes school and family groups with ages 7–12 (Key Stage 2) to watch an interactive online concert of works by Beethoven, Haydn, Berlioz, Prokofiev and Ives.

Now, with these being challenging times, this is a concert, Jim, but not as we know it (ask your parents if you don’t know the reference).

You see, as well as exploring pieces of music, it’s the space itself – not space up there, it turns out – that the orchestra is exploring in this concert. Because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the musicians will be performing at a distance from each other.

It will be exciting and interesting to see how this impacts the sound of them all playing together.

What will extracts of Beethoven’s famous Symphony No. 5 (you’ll recognise the loud, ba-ba-ba-bam opening notes) sound like, say, when the violinists are sitting so far apart?

And what will this “space” do to Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique?

Read more: A glossary of useful terminology and musical terms >

“The way we move around, work and even look at the world has changed for now,” the LSO says. “Orchestras are not exempt from this ‘new normal’: our musicians have to sit further apart than usual, avoid sharing music stands and equipment, wear masks and use shielding screens.

“But the notion of distancing is not new in our world! Composers as far back as Giovanni Gabrieli and Antonio Vivaldi thought carefully about where to place their musicians in the spaces they worked in. Many composers have continued to use the techniques they invented over the centuries in between.”

The LSO is providing classroom resources and guides for families to sit down and tackle questions with – something that will add an even deeper level to the music. These are available to view and download here on the orchestra’s website.

You’re invited to listen closely to the concert, and have a go at drawing a countryside scene you hear in the music. And can you high-five in time with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5? Click here to find out more.

‘Space... but not as we know it’ streams on LSO’s website and on YouTube channel at 11am GMT, Wednesday 18 November, and will be available on demand for 90 days. Click here to find out more and download accompanying educational resources.