I took my youngest to Timeline at the weekend. It’s Richard Tognetti’s latest concept show, in collaboration with his band, the ACO, and fab electronica duo The Presets. It promised 40,000 years of music all rolled up and packed into two hours, with moving pictures too. My youngest, who is 11, claims to hate classical music. She also hates sitting still. The only reasons she came were a/ she knows there’s Ben and Jerry’s ice cream at the Opera House and b/ she didn’t have a choice.
It would be nice to report that she listened, wide-eyed and wondering, transfixed by the brilliant musicianship and came out a convert to high art, but that would be a fiction. My very down-to-earth daughter found a pragmatic solution to an unsatisfactory situation: she went to sleep around 128 BC, to the gentle lullaby of an Ancient Greek hymn, and stayed asleep, head propped on my shoulder, until rudely awoken in 1200 AD by some lusty Perotin. She then dozed through the reign of Henry VIII (1513), opening one eye to check out the rattle and hum of Rameau’s Tambourins (1739) and came to as a moon rose through the trees to bring the Nineteenth Century to a close with Schoenberg’s Verklarte Nacht.
The second half was closer to her time and her taste in music and she stayed wide awake throughout Kurt Weill, Dizzy Gillespie and Xenakis. She even managed what we call ‘The Look” at me during 4’33”. “It’s art,” I said, by way of explanation. *Rolls eyes*
The ‘Megamix’ which took us through the last half century was a kind of ‘Name that tune’ game for her. Pink Floyd – “Daddy music” – Bob Marley – “Mummy music” – Dr Who theme tune – “Big sister music”. She was tickled to hear a whisper of Toxic, a fleeting splash of Gangnam Style, and was triumphant that Milkshake got an airing. On the way out she continued to listen closely. “Mummy, I just overheard someone saying, ‘They spend nearly two hours on boring classical stuff, then they run all the good bits over the top of each other…’ ”
She would not confirm or deny whether she agreed.