Aurora Orchestra is a London based chamber orchestra known for producing works of ‘Orchestral Theatre’. Far, Far Away is their occasional series of musical storytelling for children under 4. Back in February, Pea and I attended Far Far Away – Tchaikovsky and the Marvellous Kingdom at Kings Place.
I’d booked this performance quite far in advance and as it turned out it was the day after our disappointing experience at Southbank Centre. I was feeling apprehensive about trekking all the way out to Kings Cross with a still grumpy Pea for another musical performance that he just might not be into. It was also another very cold and wet day which thwarted my plans to have lunch at the Skip Garden nearby.
I began to feel more relaxed once we arrived at Kings Place. It’s a sleek, modern complex with floor space galore for tetchy toddlers to tear around and lots of available seating plus a cafe for exhausted adults. The performance took place at basement level – the one lift down is pretty tiny and could fit, at a squeeze, two buggies at a time so it got a bit congested. Downstairs though there was plenty of space including a designated buggy storage room.
As we filed into the performance space, we were given a programme which included a little sticker/colouring activity sheet on the back. Inside, it was cosy and inviting with giant cushions on the floor and soft lighting. The Marvellous Kingdom is an original story based on the music of Tchaikovsky. It featured a narrator and three musicians who played the harp, bassoon and flute. The narrative involved exploring a marvellous kingdom and encountering a pair of dancing shoes, singing ducks and space rockets. The musical pieces were selected from the Children’s Album and The Nutcracker.
There was a really good balance of audience participation here. Children at the upper end of the target age were able to sing along and do the actions but there was plenty of sensory stimulation for babies and younger toddlers too. Pea remained content and engaged for the roughly 40-minute duration. For me, it was charming and chilled out and a breath of fresh air after the tension of the previous day.
Aurora Orchestra is resident at Kings Place on York Way, N1. King’s Place has lift access, baby changing, a buggy storage room, a cafe, restaurant and bar and a gallery space. There’s a great selection of events for children and families but they do get booked out (the next offering from Aurora Orchestra, Beethoven and the Dinosaurs, is already sold out) so I recommend getting on the mailing list and booking early.