This was the first classical concert that I had been to, so at first I did not know what to expect as I thought that classical concerts were really an ‘adult thing’, but to my surprise I really enjoyed it and at the end I left eager to attend another. In this concert the music portrayed London, in the present and in the past, how it has brought many different nationalities together and how we have altogether shaped this wonderful city.

The concert was in two parts. In the first half, three different pieces were played that represented, in some aspect, London. The first piece was ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’, by Aaron Copland. Although this piece is normally associated with space exploration, it was written as an emotional fanfare to all the ordinary soldiers during the wartime of 1942/43. I think that this piece of music represented the victorious aspect of London; the brass was the main family of instruments used, along with the over powering effects of the drums and the gongs. At the end, one trumpet was left playing the tune, and for about 5 seconds after, everyone held their breath and there was not a sound before the huge round of applause. Everyone was left speechless as the piece was so emotional and effective.

The second piece that was played was ‘Powerhouse’ by Graeme Koehne, which I thought represented the atmosphere in a day in London. At first it started off quietly but as the piece progressed, it got busier and louder, just like a day in London. There was a lot of percussion used which sounded like people talking in the streets.

The final piece of the first half was a mix from the well-known and popular West Side Story and it was really quite something to hear the pieces I love played live and by a brilliant orchestra. In this piece, two contrasting themes were portrayed. One was love and romance, through the beautiful, quiet melodies of ‘Somewhere’ and the other violence and hate through clashing, loud ones of ‘Rumble’. The dynamics were really effective in this piece; one second the whole orchestra was playing at the extreme of their dynamics, with clashing harmonies, and then the next, it dropped to just one flute playing quietly a calm, gentle tune. I felt that I was told the whole story of West Side Story through this outstanding piece, and it was my favourite piece of the night.

After the interval, I was very excited to be one of the first to hear the world premiere of the new piece by Richard Bissil and Eugene Skeef, called ‘Excite’, which was written specifically about the history and atmosphere of London .This piece was not just orchestral as I had expected; there was poetry and choral combined as well. Bissil and Skeef divided this piece into different sections with different genres of music, to represent the different nationalities in London, such as jazz, classical, gospel. There were original parts, such as a mnemonic poem, which was meant to resemble the mixture of languages in London, however I found this irritating. There were other parts where the choir used extended vocal techniques to sound like birds singing in the trees, and another where they sounded like a storm brewing. I enjoyed hearing elements of the pieces played in the first half incorporated into ‘Excite’.

The whole concert was conducted by Vladimir Jurowski, who was fascinating to watch, and to see how his precise and restrained movements could control such a big choir and orchestra.

All in all I enjoyed my evening, but as we walked back to Waterloo Station in London, we passed a homeless man sleeping rough and it struck me that the all the sadness and misery in London was not represented in ‘Excite’.

Amy Ashlee, Age 15

Amy went to the London Philharmonic Orchestra's concert "excite" on 7th June 2008.