I love to go to the theatre and concerts but haven’t been to many since having N. I’ve been aiming to get him to appreciate and enjoy music (other than AC DC which still seems to be his first love, now extending to the Foo Fighters), and when I was looking for Christmas events I spotted the Paddington Concert that was at Warwick Arts Centre, brought to Warwick by the City of London Sinfonia.
I always forget about Warwick Arts Centre, despite it only being a half hour drive. The last show I saw there was an amazing argentine tango show, so I really should look it up more frequently.
Paddington’s First Concert was one of their family series, a one off concert. At only 55 minutes long, I decided that N would be fine to sit through it, he agreed he’d like to go, so booked it. Then they announced that the great actor, Simon Callow was to the be the narrator so I knew we should have a good experience.
We were early on the day – squeezing into the minute parking spaces was as fun as always (definitely shows how they’re made for tiny cheap students’ cars!). There’s a sculpture trail around the university site, and we did manage to spot a few of the sculptures around the Arts Centre.
An hour before the concert, the arts centre were holding musical activities suitable for children in the foyer and a separate room.
The activities included Percussion Zoo, where the children could play all sorts of percussion, follow instructions – fast, slow, loud, soft, stop, start – from the conductor, and even have a go themselves. This was a great idea…or would have been if N had been willing to give it a go. So I joined in for a bit before we went to investigate elsewhere.
It turns out that N likes to do things on his own not in big groups or in front of people – he remembered everything that the percussionist leader was telling them, and then at tea tried to conduct his dad, doing every action they were taught perfectly (except for conducting the beat).
Downstairs children could meet the musicians and have a go at conducting a string duo, change the notes on a saxophone, play a mini violin, or have a go playing a trombone. Even though it wasn’t too busy when we were there, N still didn’t want to have a go.
Lots of children were also doing Paddington Bear colouring in activities and making little card Paddington flags. Very cute. Just a shame that N just wants to do his own thing.
The arts centre is a modern building, with great acoustics. We were in the Butterworth Hall for the concert, and I’d managed to get tickets in the 2nd row. Perfect viewing, close but not too close. The only musicians we couldn’t see that clearly was the whole of the woodwind section, but we had a great view of the percussion section which I always think is great for kids to see.
The concert was telling the story of Paddington Bear’s arrival in London. We have the book somewhere so I must dig it out again. The story got a few chuckles from N, and the music was a mix from the Paddington theme tune, through to the William Tell Overture, Haydn, Schubert and Pizziola.
Simon Callow’s narration was great as expected. A bit of fun when he gets up to conduct the orchestra himself as Paddington.
N did get a bit bored with 10 minutes to go. Fidgeting, and asking when it was finishing. No staying power, my son! But he was happy enough to clap away at the end, and did have a bit of a bop in his seat at one of the faster pieces.
I thought it was a lovely concert, just long enough for adults to get into, and the children to be able to sit still for. Having the activities is a great idea, and means you’re in less of a rush to get into the theatre at the start. We’re back in Warwick Arts Centre for the Gruffalo’s Child show, and to experience The Lost Gift in December so we’re looking forward to that.
Do you go to the theatre or concerts with your children? What shows would you recommend for a nearly 5 year old?