Sir Lenny Henry, ‘Star Wars’ and Spider-Man join forces at Birmingham concert

Sir Lenny Henry narrates 'Peter And The Wolf' at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

Sir Lenny Henry has taken to the stage at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire to narrate Sergei Prokofiev’s ‘Peter and the Wolf’.

The Dudley-born actor, writer, comedian and charitable campaigner, who is also Chancellor of Birmingham City University, appeared in the city on Friday 4 May, with the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Pops Orchestra playing the various characters in a performance that helps introduce youngsters to the world of classical music.

Alongside ‘Peter and the Wolf’, the Pops Orchestra transported the audience to “a galaxy far, far away” with music from the original ‘Star Wars’ film trilogy on the day fans of the franchise celebrate Star Wars Day each year.

Conducted by Chris Houlding, the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire musicians also conjured images of darting through the skyscrapers of New York City with Danny Elfman’s ‘Spider-Man’ theme and then whisked concertgoers in to the domain of cowboys, cowgirls and the American West with ‘Hoe-Down’ by Aaron Copland from the 1942 ballet ‘Rodeo’. The programme was further complimented by ‘Overture’ from Leonard Bernstein’s swinging ‘Wonderful Town’.

The Conservatoire was granted a Royal title by Her Majesty The Queen in September 2017, with the bestowment following the HRH The Earl of Wessex becoming the college’s first Royal Patron in March 2016. The Earl officially declared the building open on Sunday 11 March this year prior to the Royal Opening Gala Concert in his honour.

Featuring the Royal Conservatoire’s Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, and conducted by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s (CBSO) Music Director, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, the Royal Opening Gala Concert marked the beginning of the college’s Opening Festival, which continued with ‘Peter and the Wolf’. Speaking ahead of the event, Sir Lenny said:

“Being the Chancellor of Birmingham City University is a great gig. Not only do I get to mingle with all the fantastic students and see first-hand how our research is transforming lives, they also let me take centre stage at our new £57 million Royal Birmingham Conservatoire!

“I first narrated ‘Peter and the Wolf’ in 2000 and it was so much fun. I’ve been longing to perform it since and to be able to do it here on home turf is just brilliant.”

Following Sir Lenny’s appearance, the Opening Festival will welcome a wealth of world-class artists to Birmingham, including Julia Donaldson, Peter Donohoe, Orkest de Ereprijs, Laura van der Heijden, Nigel Kennedy, Nitin Sawhney and Jacqueline Wilson.

Not only will the festival see international stars grace the Conservatoire’s five performance venues, there will also be a focus on the rising stars and grass roots artists of the local music scene, as per the institution’s commitment to nurturing talent and providing a hub for performing arts in the city.

The public show of ‘Peter and the Wolf’ at 7pm was proceeded by two sold-out performances for schoolchildren in the afternoon.


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