Play On! 2 takes us on a wonderful adventure into the worlds of some of the best classical music ever composed and performed. Celebrity presenters share their musical discoveries.
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ORCHESTRAL INSTRUMENTS BEING TUNED
FRANTIC VIOLIN MUSIC PLAYING
and something's out there...
Listen to those whirling strings. Sounds like a storm is on the way.
For tonight's the night all things evil are coming out to play.
It's party time for witches, and demons, and little beasties...
..and this music's tough, and hard -
so I'm not just imagining wrinkly old ladies on broomsticks!
Oh, no, the witches in my imagination
are serious bruisers, ready to swoop down out of the sky and attack you.
Can you hear that big stomping tune?
I think that's the witches circling and diving,
dancing around and around.
And they are fighting too!
Those cymbals crashing sound like swords smashing together.
What do you think would make someone write a wild,
scary piece of music like this?
Well, this piece of music starts with a story.
A story that the Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky once heard.
There was a real mountain Mussorgsky knew, there were no trees on it
so everyone called it the Bare Mountain.
One night every year, so the story said,
witches flew from all over the land to celebrate on the mountain.
So, this piece of music is called A Night On The Bare Mountain.
And guess what?
Mussorgsky finished writing it in 1867, on the night of 23 June.
The very same night the story said the witches came.
OBOES PLAYING PRANCINGLY
The quieter and the louder music sound to me
like there's a battle going on between light and darkness.
As the witches are dancing the symbols are crashing,
the brass instruments are getting louder
and darkness seems, finally, to have won.
It's as if a pot of black ink has been thrown over a page
and I can see a spider drowning in paint, thrashing across the surface.
there's a church bell in the nearby village.
Can you hear it ring six times?
That's the sound of a new day beginning.
Time for witches and beasties to vanish.
Well, the reason why I like classical music
is because it's vast and it's epic.
It reminds me of when I was very small,
when I went to the cinema for the first time
and sitting in the darkness, in the seats,
and then all of a sudden,
before even the pictures had come on the screen,
this fast soundtrack, this huge wave of sound
came towards me and already you could feel it
in the pit of your stomach.
The strings sliding in and it made you very excited about what
was about to happen on screen but you don't need a film
to appreciate a piece of classical music.
If you close your eyes and listen to a piece of orchestral music
you can see your own film inside your head because the music
will take you to places that you didn't realise existed before.
This piece, A Night On Bare Mountain, is amazingly dramatic
and it really makes me, sort of, quite nervous and scared,
to start off, but then it's like coming out of a nightmare.
When you're lying in bed, in the dark,
and terrifying things are happening all around you,
and you're squeezing up your eyes very tight,
and trying to block them out.
And then, at the end, you can really hear the rays of sunshine
coming through the window and waking you up, and making you realise that,
actually, everything's OK and it was just a dream.
FLUTES PLAYING SLOWLY
Mussorgsky takes us from darkness to complete daylight.
The witches have fled, the mountain is peaceful
and I'm just realising quite how nervous I been up until now.
It's like the calm you get after a crazy thunderstorm.
The flute and harp sound, to me, like rays of sunshine...
..but how do the wild night and the peaceful morning sound to you?
Listen to this music.
In your head, where are you right now?
Are you on a rocket about to lift off?
On a horse galloping across a field?
On a roller-coaster climbing higher and higher?
Or about to ride a superfast home-made car?
TRUMPETS PLAYING RHYTHMICALLY
What? You weren't really going to expect me to stay still
with this kind of music playing, were you?
Can you hear that pattern of sounds repeating over and over?
Yeah, that's the rhythm. I like to think of it like an engine.
You know, it keeps pushing me along. Faster! Faster!
The musical notes become like real objects in the road,
racing towards me and then "Whoosh! Bap!"
It shoots straight past my ears.
Can you hear those big timpani drums? The cymbals?
I know the roads getting bumpy when they arrive.
Ha-ha, the rhythms never stop!
And now I'm picking up speed!
Swerving, ducking, dodging, racing!
The orchestra are playing higher notes
and they're playing them louder.
It's like the wind's whistling through my wheels.
Everything is shaking and shuddering.
I can even hear horns, car horns. Go, get out of the way! Ha-ha-ha!
This car is out of control!
ENGINE SLOWING DOWN
No wonder this piece of music is called
A Short Ride In A Fast Machine.
And no wonder the man who wrote it, John Adams,
said that he got the idea
when he took a ride in his friend's crazy sports car
and wished he hadn't.
You know, that's probably why Adams wanted to create that whole effect
of being on a musical ride that you just can't stop.
Hey, can you hear that simple woodblock beat
that kicks the whole piece of music off?
It's like a ticking clock that won't stop...
..and not one of the other instruments
are allowed to slow the music down.
They've all got to join in with that beat on the woodblock.
My ears are, kind of, telling me two different things at once.
I mean, Adams seems to be using notes that sound all happy,
so they get me nice and excited,
whilst the brass and the drums are, kind of, spiky and jumpy.
So, that makes me feel a bit nervous too.
It's sort of like bombing down a hill with no brakes.
It's great but it can't last for long.
And then all the volume starts to get louder.
And one thing that I just love is that woodblock.
You can still hear it, right?
It's like it's forcing everybody on.
I like listening to A Short Ride In A Fast Machine
because I like the way that the music
actually takes you on a journey.
In my generation, classical music is always stereotyped
as the boring music that is for old people.
But if you take the time to find good songs by good composers,
classical music can be pretty, pretty amazing.
As you reach the end of this piece, it's like the brass instruments
start playing longer, more stretched out notes.
It's like you're leaving the ground behind or taking off.
I'm a big fan of music that really makes you feel something, yeah?
You know, John Adams' music definitely has me feeling things.
Like you're racing along or speeding out of control
but you might feel something completely different
when you listen to it.
So, if you were coming up with your own title for this music,
what would it be?
MUSIC: "Dance Of The Knights" by Sergei Prokofiev
This is dance music,
music to move to.
But what kind of dance would it make YOU do?
Or something just a little more frightening?
Just listen to those brass instruments.
I'm not hearing a dance party, more of a dance battle.
And I start breathing in time to the rhythm of those deep
double bass notes.
I want to join in with big, strong, striding steps.
I know I'm not alone.
But am I dancing with a friend...
or an enemy?
STRIDENT DRAMATIC STRING MUSIC
Can you hear that pulsating beat?
I can't escape it.
And one wrong step could mean disaster.
You may have heard this exciting music on TV shows
like The Apprentice.
But did you know it was originally inspired
by William Shakespeare's play, Romeo And Juliet?
Romeo and Juliet are two teenagers who fall in love,
but because their two families are bitter enemies,
Romeo and Juliet's love story is soon full of rivalry, poison and death.
In the 1930s,
a Russian composer called Sergei Prokofiev
decided that Shakespeare's play would make a great ballet.
Ballets use dance to tell a story on stage,
so Prokofiev composed very dramatic music to help the ballet dancers
show emotions like love, anger, jealousy,
all through their physical movements.
PROKOFIEV SCORE CONTINUES
This piece of music called Dance Of The Knights,
plays as Juliet's family dance at a magnificent party.
Listen to that double bass.
Imagine you are Romeo, watching this dance.
How does this music make you feel about Juliet's family?
HAUNTING STRIDENT SCORE STOPS
MUTED BRASS SECTION
Can you hear the atmosphere suddenly change?
Who do you think is dancing now?
SINGLE HORN PLAYS
What kind of music does her dance make you think of?
DREAMY ETHEREAL MUSIC PLAYS
I love classical and dance music,
the vast range of instruments really can explore
so many different emotions without needing any lyrics.
Music has played a massive role in my life, particularly classical music,
as that's where I first found my love for dance.
Music is a form of escapism, but also helps you relate to your true
feelings, whether they be happy or sad.
As the dance ends, Juliet's delicate and gentle music
is playing, but wait, can you hear a familiar theme on the saxophone?
It seems to be trying to take over.
I think it's the sound of Juliet's family,
sworn enemies of Romeo's family.
It's the sound of danger.
Because remember, I said this isn't just a ballet about love,
but also about death.
Listen to the music.
How do you think Romeo and Juliet's story will end?
There's not a sound.
And then you hear...
MUSIC: "Zadok The Priest" by George Frederic Handel
So, where are you?
Me? I'm in a tunnel.
And now colours are appearing.
RHYTHMIC STRINGS BUILD
And there's a light up ahead.
Inside, I'm nervous. Those strings are putting me on edge.
But I can feel something is going to happen
and that light's getting nearer.
What do you think it is?
Now everything changes.
More colours rush in.
I see where I am.
And I feel great.
Proud and full of energy.
OK. Firstly I might be imagining basketball,
but you could be imaging anything.
And, if it is sport, it might be football
because did you know a version of this music
is used as the theme for the UEFA Champions League?
And no wonder.
This is the type of music that makes you feel like a champion,
like a hero.
Maybe that's because way back in 1727,
it was written for the nation's top dog, the king.
The composer, George Frideric Handel, was asked to write the music
for the coronation,
the ceremony in which George II would be crowned.
Handel wasn't going to turn down a gig like that.
He dreamt up music that made sure everyone watching
knew that this event was very special and very important,
just like His Majesty.
So, it's not surprising, is it, that with music like this playing
I feel like...
..king of the basketball court.
# Zadok the priest
# And Nathan the prophet #
This choir are singing about another coronation in the Bible
where Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet
crowned Solomon as their new king.
Why do you think Handel wants everyone to think about that?
# Zadok the priest
# And Nathan the prophet... #
Now the choir becomes the king's supporters, cheering on their hero.
It's time to rejoice.
# And all the people rejoiced
# Rejoiced... #
But why do you think that Handel repeats the words
over and over again?
It sounds to me as if the voices are competing with one another
to see who can get the most excited.
And now the trumpets join in, too, celebrating with the choir.
# Rejoiced and said... #
And, of course, Handel wrote this to be sung in a huge cathedral.
He wants all his words and music to climb higher and higher
reaching the very top of the roof
and then, as if the church is a giant radio,
sent out across the whole country.
When I was growing up, classical music and choirs
were not something you admitted to you friends.
You wouldn't say,
"Oh, I was listening to George Frideric Handel today."
But what really surprised me when I got into sport
was the amount of top athletes that listened to classical music
to get themselves focused for a big game.
So, next time you're watching football with your mum and dad
why don't you tell them
it was George Frideric Handel that wrote the song in 1727.
They'll be well impressed.
# Long live the King!
# God save the King... #
This music, Zadok The Priest, was just what King George II wanted.
Handel had a hit on his hands.
And it's been performed at every coronation since.
By the end of the piece, Handel wants to blow the roof off.
It's like the roar of the crowd at a big sports game
or a cheer when I come out on to the basketball court.
The sound is so grand that I can't help but feel small,
but at the same time important
because I know something big is going to happen.
That's why Handel makes me feel strong and ready.
What about you?
# Hallelujah, hallelujah #
What's making that music?
It's you and me.
Because music is something we can all get stuck into.
I mean, we are instruments.
We can clap.
We can click.
We can pat and we can stamp.
Anyone can have a go at making this body percussion.
Have you ever tried beatboxing?
It's a way of making percussion noises using your mouth and voice.
ALL SOUNDS COMBINE
Who'd have thought you could make so much music just using your own body?
Well, this lot for a start.
The whole orchestra putting down their flutes, tubas,
clarinets, drums, everything
and using their body parts to create a world of sound.
You're probably used to clapping at the end of music,
but with this piece you can join in right from the start.
That rhythm sounds to me like hundreds of teeth
chomping down on crisps
or giant buildings shooting up out of the ground brick by brick.
This is Anna Merideth.
She composed this amazing piece of music.
Can you tell us how you came up with the idea?
So, this piece is commissioned from the National Youth Orchestra,
which is made up entirely of teenagers aged between 12 and 18.
They wanted a piece of music that would explore all the other
kinds musicianship they could do.
Basically everything apart from the instruments.
How did you come up with the name?
I guess the words Handsfree implies that you've got your hands spare.
They put down their instruments and do other stuff -
movement, body percussion, which is all using their hands.
If you think that orchestral music is just abut violins
and trombones, then think again.
The music that orchestras make is always changing
and always full of surprises, like this.
Without the body percussion,
suddenly I feel like I'm floating in the night.
But our voices are incredible things. Suddenly it's all change.
VOICES GET LOUDER
VOICES FADE AND RISE
NOTE IS HELD
What does this remind you of?
To me the whole orchestra sounds like an engine now.
The orchestra even starts to look like a machine.
Can you see the incredible shapes the music is making?
So I can hear biting and breathing and tapping and all sorts.
Was that the intention?
The idea for this piece is that you can hear whatever you want in it.
Your ears are your own and you can take your own journey through it.
Why is it important to listen to classical music?
There's something really special about the sounds of these instruments
which have developed over hundreds of years.
They make unique sounds when you watch them being played.
Also, just to be able to have music that's been written today
by real live composers is exciting,
because it's this brand-new fresh music, written by people who
are living in the same world as you. That's really exciting.
How did you get into classical music?
I didn't know composers existed.
I knew that traditionally Beethoven and Mozart was composers
but I didn't know it was something people did as a current job.
I got into music by playing recorder and clarinet
and drums while I was at school, and gradually
I wanted to get more involved and started to make music
as well as play other people's and it started from there.
BODY PERCUSSION PIECE PLAYS
Handsfree reminds me that,
even though there's a lot of music out there
with all sorts of names - dance, classical, pop -
in the end, all music has one thing in common.
It comes from inside us, which means nothing can stop you from making it.
So, why not get started right now?
ALL: YEAH, YEAH!
CLAPPING AND CHANTING "YEAH"
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Play On! 2 takes us on a wonderful adventure into the worlds of the some of the best classical music ever composed and performed. The real and animated worlds collide to suggest the wonder that's contained within the stunning pieces of music, as celebrity presenters let us into their personal thoughts on classical music and the vivid pictures painted by their imaginations as they listen to their favourite composition. Through the course of the series, we learn how these celebrities discovered classical music and the journeys that the music takes them on. From Modest Mussorgsky's cinematic Night on the Bare Mountain, to the majesty of Sergei Prokofiev's Dance of the Knight, the series touches on the huge range of wonderful pieces within the genre available to young people and encourages viewers to explore and develop their own taste in classical music while letting their own imaginations run wild when listening. The 30-minute long show features the following presenters and their favourite classical pieces: 1. Night on the Bare Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky - presented by Dan Starkey 2. Short Ride in a Fast Machine by John Adams- presented by Khalil Madovi 3. Dance of the Knights by Sergei Prokofiev - presented by Danielle Peazer 4. Zadok the Priest by George Frideric Handel - presented Martin Dougan 5. HandsFree by Anna Meredith - presented by Dev Griffin.