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Meet the Instruments

When you think of an orchestra what comes to mind? Grand performances of sweeping strings, epic percussion and woodwind melodies? Perhaps you might think of getting dressed up in ball gowns or tuxedos, sipping on bubbles and rubbing shoulders with the elite?

By Kate Conway

If those connotations of high society come to mind, Darwin Symphony Orchestra’s (DSO) interactive Family Proms program will challenge that perception.

“Unfortunately, people often think classical music is a bit snooty, but actually, a rock and roll musician is no different to a classical musician,” says DSO Artistic Director, Jon Tooby.

“We are all musicians, we all do the same thing. And one of the things this concert does is break down that barrier, it brings people closer to something they may otherwise feel is a little bit challenging.”

Aimed at all children, from babies to eight-year-olds, the concert introduces each instrument in the orchestra to highlight the diversity, colour and texture of sounds an orchestra can create. Musicians from different sections wear different coloured shirts to further add to the vibrant sensory experience.

As well as learning about the instruments, some lucky children in the audience get the chance to take on the role of Maestro and conduct the orchestra. Baton in hand, Tooby says the orchestra responds to whatever arm movements the child so desires.

“It’s quite funny, of course, because some of them go crazy fast and some go really slow, and the orchestra is trying to react. It’s all just very fun!”

Short for promenade, a prom is traditionally an outdoor concert where the audience walks around as the orchestra is playing. While this particular event isn’t outside, the title hints at the informal nature of the performance.

“Prom is a loose term, it is more about the interactive, fun element. Kids can come and get on the stage, and there’s a walk-through while the orchestra is playing. There is a real hands-on approach to what we do,” says Tooby.

In an age of streaming platforms and instant gratification, the concert introduces children, not only to how an orchestra works, but how music is made. Tooby says Family Proms offers an exciting chance to experience live music and hopefully spark an interest to inspire future generations.

“I am a musician that started one day when someone showed me music, and I went ‘well that is cool, that is what I want to do’, so this is to expose kids to that possibility.”

Family Proms
COST $15

Photo: Tim Nicol Photography

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