I feel incredibly honoured that the London Symphony Orchestra's Autumn concert was based on my debut picture book, THE QUEEN'S HAT. The spectacular concert took place twice on Tuesday and twice on Wednesday at London's famous Barbican Theatre. I attended the Tuesday morning performance alongside teachers and hundreds of pupils who came wearing hats of their own, ranging from sporty caps and smart trilbies to pointy witches and wizard hats.
As Her Royal Highness dashed after her bonnet, followed by hundreds of guards, the orchestra performed incredible music that really brought to life each London landmark in the windy chase. Featuring music by Walton, Elgar, Mussorgsky and Rossini amongst others and two brand new songs written by composer, Rachel Leach, alongside large animated images from the book, this really was a feast for the eyes and ears.
I especially liked the two new songs written and performed by Rachel Leach. 'Catch that Hat' and 'The Queen's Hat'. In fact, 'Catch that Hat' is very catchy indeed. It's currently playing on a loop in my head. Hearing these songs reminded me of when I use to write songs. I really enjoy songwriting, but in my early twenties I gave up pursuing a career in music because in the end I kept gravitating more towards writing stories and illustrating. Plus, I never really quite knew where to place myself in the field of music. And because of the issue of translating picture books, I've moved even further away from rhyming. But I absolutely love the thrill of songwriting, and watching Rachel and the LSO has hugely inspired me. I couldn't help but think how amazing it would be to collaborate with musicians to turn a story into a musical (what can I say, I've always been a dreamer).
The event was organised especially for schools by LSO Discovery: an education and community programme that makes the London Symphonic Orchestra relevant in the lives of thousands of people beyond the concert hall by holding workshops, projects and masterclasses. Each school that attended had been given a THE QUEEN'S HAT project pack prior to the concert. The pack contained fun learning activities alongside useful information about the concert. It was clear to see that the pupils thoroughly enjoyed themselves. I was impressed with how well prepped they were, especially when I realised they were all singing along to the two new songs!
Congratulations to everyone involved. It was a truly amazing concert and I loved every second of it.