On Saturday 9 February the SCO is joined on stage at the Usher Hall by a choir of over 300 school pupils from nine Edinburgh primary schools to perform a family concert all about monsters! With music by Stephen Deazley and lyrics by Matt Harvey, A Little Book of Monsters is a collection of hilarious songs about cannibal animals, monster hunters and the monsters amongst us.
The concert in Edinburgh is the culmination of an education project by SCO Connect, the Orchestra’s Education & Outreach department. Over the past few months Stephen Deazley has been visiting the nine primary schools for rehearsals and has also been accompanied by SCO players to help the pupils create their very own ‘Monster Music’.
We caught up with Stephen to find out more about the project and what exactly audiences can expect from this unique performance.
What is A Little Book of Monsters?
A songbook for young voices. The lyricist Matt Harvey and I had many chats about writing children's songs that consciously stray out of the territory of ‘recycling’ and ‘friendship’, and have tried to create a book of songs that resonates with children's imaginations. They might not be worldly or worthy songs, but we hope they are will be good fun to learn and to perform. This is our second collaboration and we're enormously pleased that the Monsters will be performed by over 2,500 children across the UK in the next 2 years.
How did working with the SCO on this project come about?
I have a long and lovely relationship with the SCO and its Education team that stretches back some 18 years, and I have also worked for many years with the City of Edinburgh on massed choral projects especially with primary school aged children. As we always planned to have two versions of A Little Book of Monsters (one for small ensemble and one for chamber orchestra) the possibility of working in partnership with the SCO always seemed like a good fit.
What is it that you enjoy about working with the SCO?
The intensity of performance, sparkling virtuosity and no shortage of intelligence and integrity in its dealings with communities, schools and learning.
How have you found working with the school choirs in Edinburgh?
The songs are challenging in parts - there is no doubt about that - they sit at the upper end of what I would ever offer to a school choir. But all the schools, teachers and choir leaders are working very, very hard!
What is your favourite song from A Little Book of Monsters and why?
I love a lot of it but the slower song 'All in the Mind' I think might just have an edge. I especially love the lyric ‘the pitiless bottom of the bottomless pit in the mind.’It was one of the songs that came very quickly - this is always a good sign!
Why should people come and see A Little Book of Monsters?
The daring-do attitude and boundless energy that young children bring to performance lifts the spirits in ways that I cannot quite explain.
The songbook is on the less conventional side. I think it sits in a quirky, funny, mildly irreverent place, but there is a very serious attitude behind all this.
I think children should be left alone to be children with all the monstrousness that that may bring. Let the monsters be monsters I say. Oh, and Matt Harvey is one of the funniest poets on the planet. And, the SCO are gonna "swing". Who could miss that?