In my 19 year old son’s photo album, compiled when he was eight, there is a photo proudly captioned “ME on the STAGE of the WIGMORE HALL” – he was one of about fifteen kids playing various instruments, jostling for space, but no matter – he was there, in that hallowed place, and he never forgot it. I should hasten to add that my son was, and is, no ascetic, swotty type but a typical boy. The Wigmore Hall’s ‘Learning’ series promotes just the kind of activities which parents of kids like him want to see – and which triumphantly give the lie to the notion that it is a near-impossibility to fight off the forces of commercialism and / or to keep alive the flame of interest in ‘real’ music for the young.
There is something for everyone in the January-March brochure, even though many of the events will leave parents of those too old to enjoy them feeling frustrated. Babies under a year old and their parents can enjoy concerts of chamber music in the ‘For Crying Out Loud’ series – just take a look at the wonderful photo of the crawling toddler making her way up that red carpet – and the ever-popular ‘Chamber Tots’ for 3-5 year olds allows children to make music as well as meeting performers.
Family events for children over 8 include a performance of Stravinsky’s The Soldiers Tale on February 4th, with the wonderful violinist Janine Jansen; the work is narrated by Samuel West, and there will be a fun, inter-active pre-concert talk as well as an activity pack available in advance.
For those aged 8-25, there are free concert tickets, supported by the ‘Cavatina’ Chamber Music Trust; numbers are obviously limited, so if youre lucky enough to be under 25, you should book as soon as you can for some very starry events, including the ‘cellist Raphael Wallfisch playing Delius and Grieg on January 8th, pianist Stephen Hough and the Juillard Quartet on January 25th, the Nash Ensemble playing Schumann and Schubert on March 3rd and the soprano Malin Christensson with a programme of German, French and Scandinavian song on March 26th.