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Orchestra toys with computer game heroes

IN AN attempt to prove itself even more populist than Nigel Kennedy, a chamber music orchestra has commissioned a new Toy Symphony which it intends to perform to a background of video screens, computer game heroes and robots.

The updated version of Leopold Mozart's work will have characters like Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario replacing the children's rattles of the original.

The piece, to be composed by Martyn Harry, will have references to the original work but also references to the 'music' and signature themes emanating from computer screens. It has been commissioned by Charles Hazlewood, the 26-year-old former Keble College organ scholar, who has formed a chamber music ensemble, EOS. No member is older than the conductor and it has the now not-quite-so-novel aim of bringing classical music to a new audience.

Mr Hazlewood, whose ensemble is performing another piece at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London this week, said yesterday: 'Music is about communicating from one generation to the next. Sega and Super Nintendo have completely obsessed this generation and a Toy Symphony for the 21st century should reflect that.

'One has to use the visual media in radical ways. It's not just a case of chucking lights on to the music. The new Toy Symphony will have scope for using robots and aeroplanes. It could be the first virtual reality symphony, with banks of video screens towering over the musicians, incredible lighting and virtual reality gear in the audience.'