Weird Science

Mad professor – and RSNO musician – Owen Gunnell, is on a mission to understand the mechanics of science, time travel and the space age.

While the professor tries to get his ill-fated rocket on and off the stage, Celine and Ross from the Glasgow Science Centre, are in charge of live experiments – involving water, electricity, and a range of fizzing, fogging things you really shouldn’t try at home!

It’s all done with spectacular support from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (conducted by Junping Qian) and the RSNO Junior Chorus. The music in ‘bite-size’ pieces to suit a family audience, is recognisable: John Williams’ Jurassic Park; Holst, The Planets; Back to the Future, from Silvestri…with Borodin, Strauss, Berlioz and Saint-Saens thrown in for good measure.

The haunting ‘Waiting for the Silver Sailed Moon’ from Scottish composer, Savourna Stevenson, sits alongside Phil Gault’s exhilarating rendition of The Elements Song (to Modern Major-General from the Pirates of Penzance) which I defy you not to have as an ear worm for the rest of the day.

It’s all topped off with the trademark medley (arranged by Paul Campbell) and an expectation of audience participation in the Time Warp! The nine year rolled his eyes at that, but I’ve a sneaking suspicion he enjoyed it really…

Children’s Classic Concerts are hour-long, interactive and relaxed, performances designed to introduce children of all ages to both the more well-known classical music and some less familiar pieces.

At the Usher Hall on Sunday afternoon, there definitely was an intergenerational mix – families on an outing – with something for everyone. And everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.

My nine year old didn’t have much time for the experiments (broadcast on a large screen in case your view of the stage was too distant) that captivated the younger children behind us, but he was there solely for the Jurassic Park theme…and came home to look up The Elements Song…

The concerts are a great way to make classical music, as well as beautiful venues like the Usher Hall, accessible rather than – as is still often perceived – somewhat elitist. Above all, they’re fun and entertaining and ticket prices, always an issue, are not unreasonable when compared with most family-oriented trips.

They are one-offs, though (or rather two-offs: one performance in Glasgow, one in Edinburgh) so if you’ve missed Weird Science, then look out for the forthcoming Santa’s Workshop in December.


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