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Under the Sea with Sarah Bleby

24 Sep 2019
  • Behind the Scenes
by Ashleigh McManus
Under the Sea with Sarah Bleby

Sarah Bleby is our Director, Commercial and Special Projects. She is instrumental in programming many of the popular concerts we perform such as The Little Mermaid, Star Wars, RESPECT: The Music of Aretha Franklin, and more.

In a nutshell, along with a whole host of other ASO staff members, Sarah assesses the viability of each concert, agrees to terms with each venue, and negotiates with artists and composers.

Ahead of performing Disney’s The Little Mermaid in Concert, Live to Film, we had a chat with her about the importance of programming concerts that appeal to children and adults alike. Film scores are often very sophisticated pieces of musical repertoire, and performing Live to Film concerts (as well as being a lot of fun to perform) showcase the incredible talents of our 75 musicians on stage. In this way we’re introducing many people to the joys of live orchestra while being accessible and entertaining enough to hold the attention of young kids!

How does this performance encourage young children’s appreciation for Orchestra?

There’s nothing quite like being able to actually see the physical movements of the players and the flashes of their instruments as you watch the movie – especially when it’s familiar music. While you might know, in theory, that people play instruments to make those sounds, you realise it  in a much more vital way – there are actual humans doing very skilful and coordinated things to produce this incredible sound that is an absolutely integral element of the film. It’s quite amazing. And being in the audience amongst young people who are discovering all this, putting together how the musicians in the orchestra are part of a story they love, is a wonderful experience for the grown-ups too!

Why is it important for kids to be exposed to music? What are some of the benefits?

The research on how music enhances all kinds of other aspects of our lives is just ever-increasing. Innately, we know that music is good for us, that’s why we’re drawn to it, why every culture on the planet makes it,  but there is now a growing body of research that proves that participation in music contributes significantly to stronger connections between the regions of the brain, better brain function, memory and attention.  And the earlier children are exposed to music, the greater the impact on their cognitive development.  It’s also an enormously important pathway to and through our emotions. Film music is prime example of this, we feel  so much more of the story through the soundtrack, powerful feelings that words can’t convey are expressed and experienced through music.

Are there any important messages in this Disney tale?

Any story that resonates with us has some important messages. We recognise something of ourselves in these stories, and for anyone who’s ever felt burning curiosity about another world, a desire to explore, learn, and experience a different way of life, Ariel is like looking at a reflection of ourselves. And that curiosity is a wonderful thing, but it comes with risk, and this really is a cautionary tale – making rash decisions can have dire consequences! There’s also a nice little nod to the idea that things – the gizmos and gadgets aplenty, whozits and whatzits galore – are not what it’s all about, life is about experience.  A very tough note for us parents is that we might think we know what’s best for our child, but sometimes we need a little humility about that. If we fear too much for our children, it could kill our relationship with them.  Perhaps the key message in all of this is that to silence ourselves is to submit to the power of evil, and that our voice is important. Really important.

– Sarah Bleby: Director, Commercial and Special Projects, 2019

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