CLOSE UP: MUSIC FOR CURIOUS YOUNG MINDS

Ensemble 360

The Guildhall, Portsmouth
Monday 22 April 2024, 1.30pm

For tickets, please email hayley.reay@portsmouthguildhall.org.uk

 

A tour through the wondrous world of chamber music, specially created for young audiences, combining well-known classical favourites with new works from surprising places. This concert for 7-11 year-olds includes thrilling musical adventures told through music, cheeky characters and epic heroes, mind-blowing musical games, and the chance to join in and make music together.   

Ideal for 7-11 year olds.

SCHUBERT String Quartet in D Minor (excerpt for ‘Close Up’)

Hey Presto! We begin with a twitchy chase from Franz Schubert, which he told the string players should be played ‘presto’ meaning ‘very quick or very fast’. How does the sound change when each musician plays on their own? How do you feel when they all play the same tune together? This tense piece kicks off an exciting hour of music…

HAYDN Russian Quartet No.3 (excerpt for ‘Close Up’)

Haydn was the composer who did most to first create a form of music for two violins, a viola and a cello: a group we know as a string quartet. This piece has the nickname ‘The Bird’ — can you hear why?

MOZART String Quartet In E Flat K428 (excerpt for ‘Close Up’)

This beautiful tune is almost like a lullaby and shows how gentle the sound of the strings can be. Listen to the way the first violin plays a tune and the other three instruments rock gently back and forth underneath, creating a warm blanket of sound. This is music to wrap up warm within. How does it make you feel?

WEIR String Quartet (excerpt for ‘Close Up’)

This string quartet was written by a composer who is making music today, the wonderful Judith Weir. A piece full of mysteries, inspired by a medieval Spanish tune. This quartet sounds like a strange landscape where it’s easy to get lost among these lopsided rhythms where nothing is quite as it seems…

SUK Josef, Meditation on an Old Czech Chorale (excerpt for ‘Close Up’)

This piece was written at the start of the first world war and is full of the drama and sadness of a scary time. But it ends full of hope with long notes seeming to climb into the air. Look and listen out for all the times the musicians play across the strings to make two or more notes sound at once — a technique called double stopping.

MEREDITH Anna, Short Tribute to Teenage Fanclub (excerpt for ‘Close Up’)

Anna Meredith is another musician writing music today. She makes music for her band as well as for classical musicians, often mixing up instruments usually seen in an orchestra with rock and pop instruments. This piece combines the two and is a tribute to one of her favourite bands performed by string quartet who don’t use their bows at all but pluck their instruments in a technique called ‘pizzicato’.

BEETHOVEN ‘The Harp’ Quartet (excerpt for ‘Close Up’)

This beautiful quartet is known as ‘the harp’ because in the first part, all four musicians have sections where they pluck the strings their instruments rather than using the bow. Can you hear the difference?

BURLEIGH Henry Thacker, Oh Lord, What A Morning (excerpt for ‘Close Up’)

This is a traditional song created by enslaved Africans in America. The composer and singer Harry Burleigh was the grandchild of slaves who became a famous musician and helped share music by black people with the rest of the world. This simple song looks forward to a better time when injustices like slavery and racism will end. Perhaps you can hear both the sadness and the hope in this beautiful music.

STRAVINSKY Igor, Three Pieces for String Quartet (excerpt for ‘Close Up’)

This spiky, short piece of music was created in Russia at the same time Suk wrote the piece we heard earlier. Stravinsky uses the plucking technique we heard in the Meredith and Beethoven, as well clashing notes and unexpected changes in pulse and speed. Stravinsky keeps us guessing what he’ll do next!

DVOŘÁK ‘American’ String Quartet (excerpt for ‘Close Up’)

This piece brings our concert to a celebratory end, from Czech composer Anton Dvořák. Listen out for all the places it gets louder, or faster — or both! — or where the quartet hang back to build tension. This piece uses folk tunes from Czechoslovakia, where Dvořák was born and started writing, and includes a native American tune, and music from all the people like him who had travelled to live and work in the USA. Bringing these together, our concert ends with an explosion of joy!

Quotations of audio and visual footage of ‘Umoja’: Ensemble Connect: Valerie Coleman’s “Umoja” for Wind Quintet and Imani Winds.

Extended technique excerpts from: Tony Parks, Extended Techiniques for Music Composition, matthiaszieglerflute and Laura Adkins Music.

Audio and visual quotations from “Three Shanties” by Malcolm Arnold, performed by San Diego Symphony

These exercises can be used as a starting point to creating a longer composition, through transformational techniques including sequencing, augmentation, diminution, altering pitches and rhythms, inversion and retrograde.

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