Walking in the Air

Rachel Whibley has not so much been ‘walking in the air’ as on it since she gathered some friends together to play the soundtrack for The Snowman – live! as the famous animated film was been screened – minus the original soundtrack, of course!

Ever since the first performances around this time two years ago, it has proved resoundingly successful with audiences young (especially!) and old adoring it; but just don’t take their word for it – last year it was No 2 in The Guardian’s ‘Top 10 things to do at Christmas 2014!’

The initial idea for it was born some 15 years ago during the four years that Rachel – bassoonist in the Northern Chamber Orchestra while also ‘sitting in’ with the likes The Hallé and BBC Phil – worked in Ireland with the RTE Orchestra in Dublin.

On one occasion the orchestra did exactly what she is doing now with her own ‘Snowman’ orchestra. Been “struck by the emotional impact it had on the audience” in Dublin, she determined to recreate the experience in Glossop.

It took her a while to actually do it, but she did have family to bring up when she moved back to Glossop (nr Manchester) with husband Dan who, after spells with RTE Orchestra and Hallé, is now co-principal double bass with the BBC Philharmonic.

It was from its ranks, those of The Hallé, Royal Liverpool Phil, her own Northern Chamber Orchestra and Manchester Camerata that Rachel primarily gathered the aforementioned friends, including the last two’s principal horn Naomi Atherton, of Ensemble 360 note!

It created a formidable body of 26 musicians to play Howard Blake’s score for the 1982 animated film and perfectly synchronises with it under the direction of The Hallé’s contrabassoon principal and part-time conductor Steven Magee.

He has the added task this year of ensuring that it syncs with a newly created animated film of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite by Tom Scott, which has been going down extremely well with audiences.

Not surprising, really, as it looks absolutely charming from the snippets that can be found at www.carrotproductions.com a company set up by Rachel on the back on the huge success of The Snowman performances.

It, and the Nutcracker are at the City Hall, 1.30pm and 7pm, on Monday, the 14th of December.

Singing that song, Walking in the Air, will be ten-year-old Natasha Flounders from St Thomas More School (1.30pm performance) and 14-year-old Connie Campbell from All Saints High School (7pm) who beat off 20 other Sheffield hopefuls that auditioned at the end of October.


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