MORE than 700 pupils from primary schools and home educators from across West Sussex were enthralled by Worthing Symphony Orchestra’s special daytime Children’s Concert.

Most were experiencing the sound and spectacular presence of a live full professional orchestra for the first time in their lives – and entirely free of charge.

Their trip with their teachers or parents to Worthing Assembly Hall brought them face to face and ear to ear with all the orchestral instruments, being played together by experienced London musicians from concert hall, opera house, West End musical theatre and recording studio.

Conductor John Gibbons talked to the audience about each piece, just like an exciting new teacher.

At the start and finish, there was ‘Bass, Beats and Loops,’ a composition being created live on the stage by Ollie Vincent.

Children could go up and have a go at mixing and using the microphone.

And everyone – orchestra included – sang together for fun, sometimes in rounds, forming a massive instant choir of nearly 800, directed by singer Rosie Secker.

Both these additional features were devised and presented by WSO’s Children’s Concert partners, West Sussex Music (WSM), which is the hub for singing and instrument teaching provision in the county.

WSM provides its services at centres in Worthing at Bohunt School, Broadwater, and at Shoreham Academy in Kingston Lane.

In a hour-long programme of a dozen pieces of music, the orchestra began with Glinka’s breathless ‘Ruslan And Ludmilla’ overture, sneaked into the sinister ‘Hall of the Mountain King’ by Grieg, and startled and amused with Haydn’s ‘Surprise’ Symphony.

They scared with Sussex composer Paul Lewis’ ‘Abject Terror’ cartoon music, they charmed with characterful selections from Ravel and Elgar, and they cheered with Scott Joplin, Eric Coates and Johann Strauss.

Then they stunned with Beethoven’s 5th, and finally cavorted out with Bernstein’s ‘Candide Overture.’

Afterwards, children met members of the orchestra with their instruments in close-up.

One home-educating parent commented: “Everyone who came loved it.

“One family came from Haywards Heath.

“Conductor John Gibbons is brilliant the way he engages the children. The choice of music was fab.

“These sorts of experiences are certainly rare and precious.

“As we stood chatting outside afterwards, one school was leaving and the kids were all singing the opening bars of Beethoven’s 5th at the tops of their voices. How cool is that!”

A date later this year is anticipated for the next WSO Children’s Concert. For more details on West Sussex Music call 08452 082182.