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Review: Sistema Scotland & Tinderbox Performance

Youth orchestra Tinderbox collaborated with Sistema Scotland’s Big Noise Douglas Project to deliver an enjoyable evening for the whole family on Thursday 8 November.

With a school nativity atmosphere, St Peter’s Free Church was full of children, their parents, and attendees of the NEoN festival walking tour – whose first stop was the performance.

The whole event was inspired by videogame music, with the videogame series The Legend of Zelda looming large. Tinderbox’s orchestra manager Frazer Knox explained, “We played ‘Song of Storms’ from the Zelda: Ocarina of Time soundtrack, which is the main video game influence in our set.

“We also played the theme tune from an independent game called Rimo, which our amazing oboist Luci Holland composed.”

The children from the Big Noise Douglas project also played a Zelda song, doing a simplified version of ‘Song of Time’. What was particularly impressive was they had only recently started playing their instruments, but they managed to follow the conductors and produce something to be proud of.  Aged between seven and eight and currently in primary four, the children had been attending an after school club three times a week – a massive commitment for kids of that age. They were also able to access the instruments for free, and the half-size cellos and double basses were sort of adorable.

With the help of a head-shoulders-knees-and-toes type scale system, they also played a version of Scotland the Brave and a song called Hello Rainbow.

A highlight of the event was the improvised conducting, especially when the children had a go at directing the youth orchestra.

“[It] is a bit of a live game in itself of using gestures to control a group of musicians in order to create a spontaneous and completely new piece of music,” explained Frazer.

Essentially, pretending to throw a ball in the air would result in a quick sliding scale, bending down to touch your toes would result in low notes, jumping would lead to high notes. One of the little girls had a great sense of comic timing. As with most improvised sections, it went on a little long because the participants were having too much fun, but overall it was an enjoyable exercise.

Luci Holland added: “We at Tinderbox have had a brilliant time working with the young people and team at Big Noise Douglas over the last couple months, working towards a live game-music-inspired performance for Neon festival.

“It was a pleasure to make music with such talented young people – and it’s difficult for me to choose a favourite moment out of such an exciting project, but I think seeing the young musicians of Big Noise Douglas conduct and lead the band on the night was the highlight for me!”

by Ana Hine

Photography by Kathryn Rattray