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FUNharmonics at the Queen Elizabeth Hall

Sarah O'Connell and Orla Hanks

The latest in the London Philharmonic Orchestra's series of childrenâs concerts was in their temporary home at the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

It was more of an event than a concert with the main programme supplemented by lots of activities in the foyer and followed by a workshop.

Actor Leo Kay and children's TV presenter Chris Jarvis made sure that the two pieces, Britten's Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra and a musical adaptation, by Paul Patterson, of Roald Dahl's Three Little Pigs, were entertaining and understood.

The children, who at 9 and 11 were older than many of the audience, really enjoyed the workshop. Three instruments: the double bass; French horn; and drums were examined and the mechanics of music making explained. Add a couple of percussionists, African rhythms and some jazz riffs, and the Purcell theme heard earlier in the Britten piece was revived in a whole new form.

The foyer events were equally popular, especially the hands-on circus skills, provided by Albert and Friends Instant Circus.

The range of activities available to children in SE1 is unparalleled. We are not a particularly musical family and an afternoon at the QEH is not an automatic choice, but given we are only 10 minutes walk along the Thames Path it is hardly a chore to get there. And it was great fun, with real professionals pulling out all the stops to make classical music accessible and entertaining.

The next concerts in this series will be at the newly refurbished Royal Festival Hall on 11 November, 17 February 2008, and 18 May 2008. Tickets sell fast so it is worth booking early.

It is also worth looking out for future circus event by Albert and his Friends. They really turned the QEH foyer into sea of children trying out plate spinning, diablo twirling and stilt walking.

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