Majestic during the daytime, at night the British Museum takes on an other-worldly quality, especially its glass-domed Great Court. I last visited on a Bank Holiday weekend, alongside hundreds, if not thousands, of visitors enjoying one of the world’s best museums: tonight proved a very different experience.
We were here to see ‘The Snowman’, the 1982 film based on Raymond Briggs’ classic story about a little boy called James who wakes up one morning to find everything outside has turned snow-white. For those of you unfamiliar with it, I’ll let the Museum explain the rest: “Overjoyed, James rushes downstairs and into the garden, where he begins to build a snowman. When he opens the back door, he can’t believe his eyes…the snowman has come to life! James finds himself face to face with a smiling snowman who, with a polite doff of his hat, introduces himself, marking the beginning of a magical friendship and marvellous adventure…”
What made this screening of ‘The Snowman’ particularly special was that it was accompanied by a live chamber orchestra from the Concordia Foundation. The Foundation was founded in 1995 by Gillian Humphreys OBE, to build bridges of friendship and excellence through music and the arts. Concordia supports young, emerging musicians on the threshold of their careers and develops unique, educational ‘Young Audiences’ programmes for school children from under-privileged backgrounds.
With giant snowflakes projected on to the walls and the scent of mulled cider lingering in the air, we couldn’t have asked for a more evocative setting. The orchestra treated us first to a selection of pieces from ‘The Nutcracker’ and then, following a short break, filed back on to stage to begin the performance we had all been waiting for.
We’re all big kids at heart, aren’t we? Only those with hearts of stone could fail to be moved by James and his adventures; the moment when he meets Father Christmas drew a collective “Aahh” from the audience, from tiny tots to the elderly. And the female soloist’s haunting rendition of ‘Walking in the Air’, made famous by Aled Jones, sent goosebumps down the spine.
Just half an hour long, ‘The Snowman’ proved the perfect way in which to begin the festive season. What a treat this was: I am now fully in the mood for Christmas.