“Would you like to join the orchestra?” Stan and Mabel asked the rabbit.

“Yes!!!!” cried a voice from the front row.

The enraptured child was one of 6355 audience members (young and old) who attended performances and events last week as part of the WA Symphony Orchestra’s Education Week.


The Beat of Your Feet on Sunday was one of 15 concerts WASO performed during the week. It featured the enthusiastic educator and composer Paul Rissmann who introduced the orchestral instruments, taught the audience some songs and then narrated Jason Chapman’s book Stan and Mabel, a story of two animals who travel to Italy to audition for the orchestra. The illustrations were projected on screens, vocalist Libby Hammer helped with the songs  and Benjamin Northey conducted the 50 plus orchestra.

The child in the front row wasn’t the only person getting swept up with the excitement. Children and adults were singing, doing actions, delighting in the instrumental solos and completely enthralled. There’s something so decadent about having literature, art and music brought to life by such talented professionals!


The day before we attended a Cushion Concert where the story of The Lion of Loved was brought to life in a similar manner by Rissmann and the11-piece EChO ensemble.

Paul Rissmann and the EChO musicians

This smaller scale concert was held in the more intimate Wardle Room of the concert hall. Even in the back row we were close enough to feel the reverberations in our chests from Andrew Sinclair’s marvelous double bass evocation of an elephant. Again Rissmann’s warm welcome and lively interaction with the music had the children captivated. The advantage of the back row was that my four year old daughter could dance her heart out. Or snuggle up when things got a bit tense as the jungle animals tried to rescue Leo the lion from the raging river.

Libby Hammer’s bubbly personality and warm vocals were an asset to both shows. And the “have-a-go” on the instruments at the end is always popular. But the real success lay in Rissmann’s compositions, which captured the zesty energy of the picture books and also the moments of sweet pathos while featuring specific instruments and some very singable tunes.

A few nights later my children randomly began singing “We’re going to Italy to audition in a competition”.

It was a busy week for the orchestra who performed The Lion Who Loved and The Beat of Your Feet during the week to school children, along with Sir Scallywag and the Golden Underpants. There was also a conducting masterclass, the Rusty Orchestra concert, Harmony Music performances for children with special needs, the Hospital Orchestra Project at PMH and the Composition Project Final Showing.

WASO’s next children’s concerts is November 5th when ABC favourites Lah-Lah and Buzz join the orchestra.