Perth Symphony Orchestra celebrates The Snowman with young stars

Lucas Steinwandel (Darlington), PSO director Bourby Webster (Mosman Park) and Ciaran Paxman (Maida Vale). Picture: Andrew Ritchie d447208
Lucas Steinwandel (Darlington), PSO director Bourby Webster (Mosman Park) and Ciaran Paxman (Maida Vale). Picture: Andrew Ritchie d447208

CHRISTMAS in England was never complete during Bourby Webster’s childhood without watching 1982 animated film The Snowman.

Based on Raymond Briggs’ 1978 picture book without words, the motion picture has no dialogue, apart from the song Walking in the Air, and follows the tale of a boy’s adventure after the snowman he builds comes to life.

Perth Symphony Orchestra (PSO) director Webster has dreamed of presenting the British Christmas classic since starting PSO seven years ago and her wish will come true with two concerts at the orchestra’s Scotch College home in Swanbourne on Saturday, December 19.

“Everyone told me nothing would sell before Christmas because people would be too busy, but ticket sales would show they’re never too busy for Christmas,” Webster said.

The concert will feature a screening of The Snowman alongside a live orchestral performance of Howard Blake’s enchanting score.

The key to the performance was finding a young singer to challenge Welsh boy soprano Aled Jones’ version of Walking in the Air in the film and PSO did this through a ‘Searching for a Star’ competition.

“I knew we were going to need a really great boy soprano because the voice singing Walking in the Air is such an iconic part of The Snowman,” Webster said.

“I thought if we got 10 entries I would be really happy but we had 44 entries and there was not one dud.

“We had tears rolling down our faces… I thought then and there if this orchestra didn’t take up all of my time, I would be starting a WA boys choir.”

Initial entries were whittled down to 10 finalists by the judging panel of music educator Prue Ashurst, Trinity College head of music Robert Braham and PSO chief conductor Jessica Gethin.

The final two, who will each sing in one performance on December 19, were 12-year-old Ciaran Paxman and 13-year-old Lucas Steinwandel.

“We have two absolutely gorgeous boys who are going to knock the socks off people,” Webster said.

“It’s such an iconic song and they stood out for their strong musicality because they’re going to get one or two runs with the full symphony orchestra before singing it to an audience of 700 to 800 people, which is a pretty epic thing at that age.

“They both had very solid performances. I’m really confident they’re going to bring the house down.”

Webster said the concert would close with a visit from Father Christmas, a performance of Do You Want to Build a Snowman? from Frozen and a Christmas carol sing-along.

“Any boys in the audience who were part of the audition have been invited to the front of the stage to lead the first verse of the Christmas carol,” she said.

THE ESSENTIALS

What: Perth Symphony Orchestra’s The Snowman

Where: Dickinson Centre, Scotch College, Swanbourne

When: 2pm and 4pm, Saturday, December 19

Tickets: www.perthsymphony.com