CLASSICAL MUSIC: Worthing Youth Prom

Worthing Symphony Orchestra conductor, John Gibbons''Glen Harris
Worthing Symphony Orchestra conductor, John Gibbons''Glen Harris
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YOUNG music-makers are once again in the spotlight for this year’s Worthing Youth Prom at the on Assembly Hall, Sunday, February 13, 2.45pm.

The event, which has been going for about eight years, has been developed by Worthing Symphony Orchestra principal conductor John Gibbons as part of his commitment to youth.

“Our audience tends to be on the more mature side, which is why I have always tried to involve younger people.

I made contact with the people that organise the music service in West Sussex, and we have a very good relationship with them.”

The Youth Proms have emerged as a result.

This year sees John conduct the West Sussex County Youth Orchestra plus the youth wind players in a programme of classic film music, reflecting Worthing Symphony Orchestra’s theme for the season.

The programme will be Walton: Suite from Henry V; Beethoven: Piano Concerto No 4 in G major; and Brahms: Symphony No. 1 in C minor.

“I have tried to look at film music and how much film-makers down the years have been drawn to classical music.

“It’s how so many people hear classical music, learn to like it and appreciate it and sometimes don’t realise that they are actually listening to this ‘horrible’ thing called classical music!”

It’s certainly a way of breaking down the barriers, said John who says there should be no divide whatsoever.

He challenges the notion of popular music, as if everything else were unpopular.

John admits, though, that classical music failed to take many people with it in the 60s and 70s during its “squeaky door” period – though he’s quick to point out that rock, too, has had its moments of extreme experimentation.

“But since the 1970s, classical music has really come back, thanks to people such as Jenkins.

“Part of the challenge now, though, is that people are so used to listening to music while doing something else, putting on their iPod or whatever as they drive or run.

“What I try to do with youngsters is really explain what is going on in the music,” said John, a conductor always keen to give audiences pointers as to what to listen out for.

“With a painting or a piece of sculpture you can walk away, have a cup of coffee and then come back again; not so with music which is much more demanding: You have got to listen, you have got to retain what you have heard, you have got to keep it in your head and process it and then recognise a passage 20 minutes later and see how it has changed.”

If you do, your appreciation will be immeasurably enhanced: “People assume that your audience in Worthing will be sitting there falling asleep, but we are very lucky. Our audiences in Worthing love being challenged and stretched.”

For details of the Worthing Symphony Orchestra Season 2010/11, see (See external link to the top right of this story).