When we went to the Philharmonia Britannica concert, in a church just off of Sloane Square in Kensington, we were pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed the classical music they played. The programme that night comprised three pieces – Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto Number 3, BWV 1084; Mendelssohn’s violin concerto in E minor, Op. 64; and Beethoven’s symphony number 5 in C minor, Op.67.

We first listened to the Brandenburg Concerto. The instruments playing were three violins, three violas, three cellos, a double bass, and a keyboard posing as a harpsichord. There were three movements, but the second movement was not what Bach originally wrote for the concerto, but ‘copied and pasted’ in from another of Bach’s concertos. The music was quite lively and old fashioned, however, towards the end of the 1st and 3rd movements this repetitive tempo and mood did get rather superfluous and boring. In contrast to the first and third movements however, the second movement was extremely interesting and moving. It was played very emotionally, and captured our imaginations. Overall, we would rate the piece at about 5/10.

The second piece, the violin concerto by Mendelssohn, was amazing. The solo violinist (Francesca Barritt) played with so much passion and vigour; it was incredible to listen to. She memorized the whole piece, which was compromised of three movements, and about thirty five minutes long, and played without a single mistake. The orchestra and solo violinist played so well, that it almost created a story in our heads as we listened. During all three movements, there was a very memorable, beautiful melody that kept coming back, and stuck in our heads – just what an amazing classical piece like this needs to keep it going. Mendelssohn wrote such great tunes, one of his friends suggested him putting words along with the pieces. Mendelssohn replied however ‘Musical emotion is indescribable because it is too precise for words.’ This piece was fantastic, and we rate it as a 9/10.

Lastly it was Beethoven’s fifth. It’s a classical piece that we both know well, and it was pulled off with all the expected characteristics, but had its own individuality and feel about it. During the performance, images were being projected onto a screen behind the orchestra. These helped to visualise and understand the music, and also added an element of interest to the piece. The visual images (produced by Sam Fisher) were mainly about or to do with politics. Also, there were what appeared to be coloured puffs of smoke floating across the screen, in time with the music. This helped emphasise the accents and staccatos in the music, making it more lively and interesting. Overall, we would rate it at an 8/10.

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Just before all the pieces were played, the conductor, Peter Fender, would briefly explain the pieces, and some things to look out for, so that you would be able to understand the pieces a bit better. This helped us become more integrated in the music, and made us look out for little details within. It was a brilliant concert, and both the venue and the passion the orchestra played with, was absolutely spectacular. It made a great concert, and we would both love to go and see one again. We recommend them to anyone who loves classical music, and a good show.

By Elizabeth Swann, 14 and Safiyyah Marhoon, 14

Elizabeth and Safiyya attended a concert performed by the Philharmonia Britannica on 13th September 2008 in St Columba's Church, London. Peter Fender - conductor and Francesca Barritt - violin