I'm so sad to see that only the Daily Telegraph have bothered to send someone along to have a look and listen to this extraordinary project. Darn it, I don't want to turn into a Telegraph reader; that would be embarrassing.
I have to agree with some of Ivan Hewitt's remarks, too. I think it's the first time anyone has done something like this, on this scale. It is hugely ambitious; and they certainly didn't pick a nice, safe piece of music to use, either. I used to use "The Rite of Spring" on my headphones when I was an art student, playing it over and over; staying late so I could get the studio to myself, dancing and drawing together, getting filthy with charcoal and acrylic and practically hurling myself at the walls as the energy built up and up. I got a touch of the same fever yesterday, and I was just doing pencil studies in an A5 sketchbook. What I want is for someone to make over to me a final, unused room in the Bargehouse, and give me charcoal and paint and a sheet of paper about six feet by twenty, and let me loose for the duration. I know that isn't going to happen; but I can go back and draw some more, at least.
One problem is that it was full of kids, and the "try out the percussion" room was consequently a nightmare of toddlers and parents squabbling over the gong, the tambourines and the bass drum, and a fearful racket was resulting. One had to simply tune it out. Then there is the problem that the screens in each room do not recreate the experience of being in the middle of an orchestra, because almost without exception they each show only one section of the orchestra - violins here, clarinets there, and so on. It is still amazing to get up close and personal with some of the best clarinetists, violinists, etc, out. But one doesn't get the surrounded-by-musicians feeling, the awe-inspiring sense of a huge collaboration, and the tension of that collaborative effort holding together, that I remember being such a buzz when I was a terrified and inept teenaged percussionist.
The up-close-&-personal thing is a little strange, too; it is odd to be so close to life-sized filmed poeple, and their indifference is somehow of a different order to that of filmed people on the small screen of the tele. I felt at times as if I were snooping on them; and I did catch myself once or twice muttering "Give us your profile again, lad" or "Please show me that fingering again" at the screens. And even (forlorn hope indeed, this!) "Keep still, Maestro!"
So I'm not sure the project accomplishes all that was hoped for it, but I still think it is exciting; and it has given me a chance to do something I haven't done for ages. I'm now so fired up about drawing I don't believe myself. Good heavens, did I actually go through a phase recently when I no longer carried a sketchbook around with me? Weird.