The Surprise Welcome was composed for the WA Symphony Orchestra’s Education Chamber Orchestra as a theatrical opener to their Big Cushion concerts designed for 6-10 year olds. It uses as its starting point two Haydn symphonies – one conceptually (the Farewell) and one thematically (the Surprise). It is intended to introduce children to the orchestra section by section, as the orchestral players slowly reveal themselves hidden around the auditorium. Stylistically, the work owes much to Broadway show and folk idioms, and very little to Haydn – but his mem’ry lingers on through the melody that forms the core of this work.
All the players of the ensemble, with the exception of the percussionist and the harpist, should start the work offstage (preferably outside the auditorium). A presenter or announcer should request an audience member’s help in ‘finding the orchestra’. This child should be led to the door behind which the woodwind section are hiding. The work starts with the clarinet player being revealed. One by one, as they play, the woodwinds should emerge from their hiding place. Similarly, the brass and strings should position themselves around the auditorium (out of sight) and emerge only when they start to play. The effect for the audience should be one of being surrounded by musicians. Players should remain out of their seats for as long as possible, interacting with the audience as much as possible. All players should be in position on stage by Letter E.
Performance style should reflect the showmanship implied in the score – spirit should be rewarded over accuracy – Klezmer styles and techniques are preferable over traditional, polite playing.