On Saturday 30th June I went to the Orchestra in a Field at Glastonbury Abbey. By the time I arrived Charles Hazelwood’s Excellent Device!, his symphony orchestra, were on the main stage rehearsing for their performance in the evening. I went to explore the variety of tents around the edge of the field. In the Tea Tent I saw a presentation called ‘Is music the process of sounding maths?’ by mathematician Marcus du Sautoy, who is a trumpeter and one of the celebrities on BBC 2’s series Maestro. He talked about patterns of numbers in music. Next I went into the Sensory Music Tent where I played on a range of different musical instruments including a keyboard and an accordion.
After that I went to the children’s area where I found great amusement attempting to ride a unicycle to the sound of Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, as the orchestra practised. I watched some of the rehearsal and found it interesting that they kept stopping to write new notes on their music. The first group of artists on the stage for the main event were Superact, a new ensemble of 16-18 year olds from Somerset and London. They played the African drums and rapped a response to Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. After a short interval Excellent Device! played Glinka’s Ruslan and Lyudmila and Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, both of which were Great Russian Romantics. I recognised Romeo and Juliet as I have heard it elsewhere. Then All Star Collective, featuring Goldfrapp’s Will Gregory, who is better known for his dance music, joined the orchestra on stage. They also performed responses to Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, but this time they were electronic and not rap music. In my opinion, the Scrapheap Orchestra was the most interesting act. All of the instruments were made from recycled material. Charles Hazelwood told us that if there were any tuning problems it wasn’t the operator’s fault. They played Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and at first it did sound slightly strange, but as they continued to play the sound improved.
It finished with the 70’s piece Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield played by the All Star Collective. They were joined on stage by Michael Eavis, organiser of the Glastonbury Festival. I enjoyed the day so much that I went back on Sunday and watched Professor Green and Labrinth rapping on stage with Excellent Device! and the first ever Paraorchestra performing Ravel’s Bolero.
Andrew Mateer, aged 12
Orchestra in a Field
Saturday, June 30th 2012