I was 17 when I first stepped through the doors of the Royal Festival Hall; today a whole platitude of children whose age are in single digits have beaten me in terms of being introduced to this monument of post-war London. The reason they are here is for a special performance of the Sergei Prokofiev-scored children’s story ‘Peter & the Wolf’, featuring words by Simon Armitage, narration from Jarvis Cocker, and Suzie Templeton’s film adaptation.

The first half of the hour long event is given over to the ex-Pulp frontman. Taking to the stage in his usual brown blazer, corduroys, thick-rimmed glasses and sporting a headmaster’s cane, Cocker has come very much dressed for the younger members of his audience. He narrates the story with backing music from the Royal Festival Hall’s own Philharmonia Orchestra in his typical sonorous Sheffield accent. As a result he rather looks the part of a friendly uncle or favourite teacher from primary school, engaging without being too patronising in his demeanour. The Philharmonia Orchestra’s performance is collected and meticulous, despite the often heard whispers, shouts and cries from the more expressive children in the auditorium.

The second half consists of a showing of Suzie Templeton’s Academy Award winning film while the orchestra performs the soundtrack. Cocker describes the film as a “Brucie bonus”  and introduces it with the words “as promised”, and one can’t help but feel that it’s not until now that many of the children – who were not yet born when Cocker upstaged Michael Jackson or played to tens of thousands at Glastonbury – finally get into the show. The Templeton film differs from the narrated story by focusing on Peter’s efforts to rebel against his environment; the farm he lives on with his grandfather is portrayed as barren, post-industrial and stifling, and Peter’s resistance to being pinned inside his house for fear of the wolf is celebrated. Peter is also rather the idealist, as he chooses to reconcile with the wolf at the end of the story rather than exact his vengeance.

Undoubtedly Armitage and Cocker are names to keep parents and older siblings intrigued while the real aim of the event is to introduce children to classical music. In time, many of the attendees present this afternoon will search up the bearded, geeky man who narrated the show to them and receive a pleasant surprise when they discover the music he and his band have written.

Peter & the Wolf took place at the Royal Festival Hall on 29th and 30th of December.

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