Chimps are champs for children

At the Chimpanzees of Happytown concert at the Crucible are the narrator Polly Ives, viola player Judith Busbridge, the composer Paul Rissman and two children
At the Chimpanzees of Happytown concert at the Crucible are the narrator Polly Ives, viola player Judith Busbridge, the composer Paul Rissman and two children

The Chimpanzees of Happytown

Crucible Theatre

ADULTS have been attempting to find ways of introducing children to classical music since Prokofiev’s masterful Peter and The Wolf.

After last year’s sell-out tour of Little Red Riding Hood, Ensemble 360 and Polly Ives presented this premiere for two-to-seven-year-olds based on picture book The Chimpanzees of Happytown by Giles Andreae.

Music in the Round’s children’s composer in residence Paul Rissmann wrote the piece following workshops with children at Phillimore Community Primary School in Darnall and Porter Croft Primary School off Ecclesall Road, who are to be commended for the gusto of their performance during the concert.

The audience follows and takes part in the story of Chutney as he and his beautiful tree help to spread colour and happiness throughout the town of Drabsville.

With projections of the illustrations from the book by Guy Parker-Rees and lots of chances to join in the songs, this concert is ideal for engaging young children, as well as firing up their imaginations.

It certainly lodged in the brain of my four-year-old Leo, who suddenly started singing “Celebrate, listen to the bear,” just before bedtime several hours later.

Never mind that it should have been mayor not bear, he got the tune spot on.

During the performance he had seemed far more concerned that none of Ensemble 360 wore a white T-shirt and failed to appreciate the storminess of the introductory piece of Vivaldi, but grudgingly had to admit that he liked the man with the piano the best.

Embarrassment at ‘dad singing’ clearly starts early as every time I tried to join in my two-year-old Archie shook his head solemnly and delivered the crushing verdict: “No sing.”

Many children took the chance to make and paint flowers in the Crucible foyer before the performance and chat to members of Ensemble 360.

As an exercise in breaking down barriers between children and classical music The Chimpanzees of Happytown can’t be faulted.

Tim Cotton