In Autumn 2020, our OrchLab project focused on Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, a colourful orchestral work describing a visit to an art gallery and depicting the paintings there in music. In this activity, we invite you to play along with the last movement of this work, ‘The Great Gate of Kiev’, which describes the grand old gate in that city.
This activity is introduced by OrchLab workshop leader John Webb, and features musicians from the London Philharmonic Orchestra: Kate Birchall (violin) Elisabeth Wiklander (cello), Alice Munday (oboe), Anne McAneney (trumpet) and David Whitehouse (trombone).
Listen to this explanation track for instructions about this activity above, or read them below.
Setting up this activity:
- You will need to be able to listen to the audio tracks on this page so that everyone in your group can hear.
- To play along, you will need some or all of these percussion instruments: tambourine, shakers, chime bars or bells, and drums.
- If you’re on chime bars or bells you’ll need the notes C and G. If you want to play something more complicated you could use the notes C, E, G and A to make up your own pattern to play along with. If you don’t have chime bars or bells, choose another instrument to play the chime bar section instead.
- If you’re a group playing in the same room together you could play a selection of instruments.
- If you’re listening on your own, then use whatever instrument you have to play all the different instrument rhythms.
How to join in with this activity:
- Listen to the rehearsal track and follow the instructions you hear.
- You’ll hear the piano playing throughout the piece. You will also hear musicians from the London Philharmonic Orchestra playing different melodies. Each of these melodies relates to one of your instruments, so for example, if the oboe is playing, the tambourine should play. If the violin is playing, the shakers should play… and so on.
- Listen for the cello melody just before each new percussion instrument starts.
- Then one of our LPO musicians will play a melody for you to play along with on your instrument. Play along with their rhythm and stop when they stop.
- First, you will hear the oboe. This means tambourines join in.
- Then you will hear the violin for the shakers.
- Thirdly, you will hear the trumpet. This means the chime bars or bells should play along.
- Finally, you will hear the trombone. Drums should play along with this.
- At the very end, everyone plays all together. You will hear the cello signal just before this happens.
- You will also hear that cello melody again just before the very end, which is the signal to stop!
- Once you’ve played along to the rehearsal track and feel confident, try the activity with the performance track which has just the musical instruments playing and no instructions.
We hope you enjoy playing along with the piece!
When you’ve practised with the rehearsal track, see if you can play along with the performance track, which doesn’t have any verbal cues.
Here is a list of the piece structure to help you. The cello melody announces each new instrument entry, and the final stop:
- Oboe with tambourine
- Violin with shakers
- Trumpet with chime bars/bells (use notes C and G, or C E G A)
- Trombone with drums
- Everyone together
- Listen for the final cello cue for you to stop together
- Listen to the LPO’s recording of Pictures at an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky
- If you enjoyed this activity, try this one: Play Along – Mahler’s Waltz