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Roald Dahl

There was a very good reason that we chose Roald Dahl as one of our Houses in 2010 when we introduced our House system.  All the Houses are named after children’s authors and as well as being a powerful force behind inspiring children to read Dahl is also an extraordinary man with a fascinating life story.  When the children enjoy their termly House Assembly they look forward to meeting other children and teachers in their House and then listen with eager anticipation to a few chapters or a short story written by their own author.  Children in Dahl House are never disappointed as they marvel at the original and entertaining stories written by Mr Dahl himself.

On Tuesday we took Year 2 up to the Barbican to take part in an interactive concert inspired by the life and works of Roald Dahl performed by the amazing London Symphony Orchestra. As the house lights dimmed the stage was lit up revealing the entire LSO each in a brightly coloured shirt playing with gusto their opening number; the theme from the 633 Squadron which filled auditorium.  We were two rows from the front and our children listened with amazed delight as we absorbed the magnificent sound.  The presenter then told the children about Dahl’s ambition to be and career as a fighter pilot which had suggested the opening piece.

As the concert progressed the children were told about a particularly unpleasant Sweet Shop owner who Dahl as a school boy  together with his friends had tricked by placing a mouse in a jar of gobstoppers. The children heard the low sting section including the double basses and the cellos represent the mean sweet shop owner and the brass trumpets with adjusted mutes play the cheeky but nervous school boys.  The children listened in awe as the two instrumental sections simulated an argument between shopkeeper and school boys.  The concert then moved on to support one of Dahl’s stories , his version of Red Riding Hood. The particularly comical wolf was represented by a range of instruments including a trombone and with no additional visual effects, the auditorium filled with the sound of laughter.  I marvelled as I have before at the power of music.

As well as writing novels and flying planes Roald Dahl was also an inventor who created a brilliant medical shunt, an invention which was used in hospitals around the world saving many lives.  At the end of the concert we were told about one point in his life when  Dahl lived in America and the narrator told the children how it is now believed that he was actually was employed by MI5 as a spy.  Can you guess what the final musical piece was?  Dial 007 for a clue.

Annie Thackray